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The Late John Brundle 


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Photo: Wilkins. 



The Story of the Quest. By 

Commander FRANK WILD,G.B.E. 

From the OflScial Journal and Private 
Diary kept by Dr. A. H. MACK LIN 

With Frontispiece in Colour, numerous Maps 
and over lOO Illustrations from Photographs 


London, New York, Toronto and Melbourne 



if J I 


?"irst Published Afay 1923. 
Second Edition June 1923. 
Reprinted November 11^23 


Printed in Great Britain 


"Yonder the far horizon lies, 
And there by night and day 
The old ships draw to port again. 
The young ships sail away. 
And go I must and come I may, 
And if men ask you why, 

You may lay the blame on the stars and the sun 
And the white road and the sky." 

Gerald Gould 


SIR ERNEST SHACKLETON died suddenly; so 
suddenly that he said no word at all with regard to 
the future of the expedition. But I know that had he 
foreseen his death and been able to communicate to me 
his wishes, they would have been summed up in the two 
words, " Carry on ! " 

Perhaps the most difficult part of my task has been 
the recording of the work of the expedition. It has been 
to me a very sad duty, and one which I would gladly 
have avoided had it been possible. The demand, how- 
ever, for the complete story of Sir Ernest Shackleton's 
last expedition has been so widespread and insistent that 
I could no longer withhold it. 

In the subsequent pages of this book the reader will 
find recorded the story of the voyage of the Quest, the 
tight little ship that carried us through over twenty thou- 
sand miles of stormy ocean and brought us safely back. 

I make no claim to literary style, but have 
endeavoured to set forth a plain and simple narrative. 

The writings of explorers vary, but in my opinion 
they have all one common fault, which is, that they have 
attempted to combine in one volume the scientific results 
with the more popular story of the expedition. 

This book is for the public. I have sought to 



eliminate the mass of scientific details with which my 
journal is filled, to avoid technical terms, and to retain 
only that which can be easily understood by all. 

Of the parts of the narrative that deal with Sir 
Ernest Shackleton I have passed over very shortly. 
Pens far more able than mine, notably those of Mr. 
Harold Begbie and Dr. Hugh Robert Mill, have written 
of his life and character. 

Though I was his companion on every one of his 
expeditions, I know little of his life at home. It is a 
curious thing that men thrown so closely together as 
those engaged in Polar work should never seek to know 
anything of each other's " inside " affairs. But to the 
" Explorer " Shackleton I was joined by ties so strongly 
welded through the many years of common hardship and 
struggle that to write of him at all is extremely difficult. 
Nothing I could set down can convey what I feel, and 
I have a horror of false and wordy sentiment. I trust, 
therefore, that those readers who may think that I have 
dealt too lightly with the parts of the story which more 
intimately concern him will sympathize and respect my 
feelings in the matter. 

I must take this opportunity of acknowledging my 
deep feeling of gratitude to Mr. John Quiller Rowett. 
What the expedition owes to him no one, not even its 
individual members, can ever realize. There have been 
many supporters of enterprises of this nature, but usually 
they have sought from it some commercial gain. Mr. 
Rowett's support was due solely to his keen interest in 
scientific research, which he had previously instituted 



and encouraged in other fields. He bore practically the 
whole financial burden, and this expedition is almost 
unique in that it was clear of debt at the time of its 

But, in addition to this, I owe him much for his 
kindly encouragement, his clear, sound judgment, and 
his unfailing assistance whenever I have sought it. Mrs. 
Rowett has given me invaluable assistance throughout 
the preparation of the book and has corrected the proofs. 
For her kindly hospitality I owe more than I can say, 
for to myself and others of the expedition her house has 
ever been open, and we have received always the most 
kindly welcome. In this connexion I could say a great 
deal, but it would be inadequate to convey what I feel. 

The expedition owes also a debt of gratitude to Sir 
Frederick Becker, for his encouraging assistance was 
rendered early in its inception. 

To the many public-spirited firms who came forward 
with offers of assistance to what was considered a 
national enterprise I must make my acknowledgments. 
It is regrettable that many of the smaller suppliers of 
the expedition seized the chance of a cheap advertise- 
ment at the time of our departure, but a number of the 
more reputable firms made no stipulation of any sort, 
but presented us with goods as a free gift. I can assure 
them that I do not lightly regard their share in helping 
on the work, for we were thus enabled to carry in our 
food stores only the best of products. Sir Ernest 
Shackleton rigidly eliminating all goods which he felt 
unable to trust. 



To Mr. James A. Cook I owe much for the hard 
work he has done at all times and for the help which he 
rendered whilst the expedition was away from England. 

To my many other friends who have at one time and 
another been of assistance I tender my grateful acknow- 
ledgments, knowing full well that they will realize how 
impossible it is for me to thank them all by name. 

I must thank Dr. Macklin for the care he took in 
keeping the official diary of the expedition. This and 
his own private journal, from which I have freely quoted, 
have both been invaluable to me. 

To " The Boys," those who stood by me and gave 
me their loyal service throughout an arduous and trying 
period, I say nothing — for they know how I feel. 

Frank Wild. 



I. Inception 

2. London to Rio de Janeiro 

3. Rio to South Georgia 

4. Death of Sir Ernest Shackleton 

5. Preparations in South Georgia 

6. Into the South 

7. The Ice . 

8. Elephant Island 

9. South Georgia (Second Visit) 

10. The Tristan da Cunha Group 

11. Tristan da Cunha . . By Dr. Macklin 

12. Tristan da Cunha (continued) ,, ,, 

13. Diego Alvarez or Gough Island 

14. Cape Town 

15. St. Helena — ^Ascension Island— St. Vincent 

16. Home 


I. — Geological Observations 

II. — Natural History . 

III. — Meteorology 

IV. — Hydrographic Work 

V. — Medical 

List of Personnel . 

Index .... 













The Cairn Colour Frontispiece 

Plate facing page 

1. Sir Ernest Shackleton in Polar Clothing ... 4 

2. Mr. John Quiller Rowett ...... 5 

3. A Diagrammatic View of the Quest . . . .6 

4. Sectional Views of the Quest 7 

5. The Sperry Gyroscopic Compass 10 

6. The Enclosed Bridge of the Quest 11 

7. The Quest at Hay's Wharf 12 

8. Kerr (Chief Engineer) Examining the Lucas Deep-sea 

Sounding Machine ....... 13 

9. The Wireless Operating Room — The Ward Room of the 

Quest ......... 20 

10. The Quest Passing the Tower of London on her way to the 

Sea — The Schermuly Portable Rocket Apparatus . 21 

11. The Quest in the North-east Trades .... 28 

12. The Tow Net in Use 29 

13. A Porpoise which was Harpooned from the Bowsprit . 32 

14. Query — The Boss Gives Query a Bath .... 33 

15. Landing the Shore Party at St. Paul's Rocks . . 48 

16. The White-capped Noddy {Anous stolidus) on St. Paul's 

Rocks — The Booby (Sula leucogastra) ... 49 

17. Commander Worsley Superintending Work in the Rigging 

at Rio de Janeiro ....... 50 

18. The Quest in Gritviken Harbour . . . . -Si 

19. The Whaling Station at Gritviken .... 62 

20. Sunset on the Slopes of South Georgia .... 63 

21. The Resting Place of a Great Explorer .... 64 

22. The Picturesque Setting of Prince Olaf Station . . 65 

23. Prince Olaf WhaHng Station . . . . . 68 

24. A Steam WTialer with Two Whales brought in for 

Flensing — Huge Blue Whales at South Georgia . 69 

25. The " Plan " at Gritviken, with a Whale in Process of 

Being Flensed . . . .... 76 


List of Illustrations 

Plate facing page 

26. Leith Harbour, South Georgia 77 

27. Chart of Larsen Harbour — The Entrance to Larsen 

Harbour 80 

28. An Expedition in Search of Fresh Food — Marr, Mcllroy, 

Commander Wild, MackUn . . . . .81 

29. Commander Wild ....... 82 

30. A Small Berg — A Curious " Toothed " Berg ... 83 

31. A Lovely Evening in the Sub- Ant arctic ... 86 

32. Too Many Cooks — Our First Deep-sea Sounding . 87 

33. The Western End of Zavodovski Island, showing 

Grounded Icebergs ....... 90 

34. Sentinel of the Antarctic ...... 91 

35. A Typical Scene at the Pack Edge .... 94 

36. Killers Rising to " Blow " — The Quest Pushing Through 

Thin Ice ........ 95 

37. Loose Open Pack— Loose Pack Ice, with the Sea Rapidly 

Freezing Over . . . . . . .96 

38. The Midnight Sun 97 

39. The Loneliness of the Pack 100 

40. An Unpleasant but Necessary Duty — Taking Crab-eater 

Seals for Food ....... loi 

41. Commander Wild at the Masthead .... 108 

42. Pushing South Through Heavy Pack — The Quest Plough- 

ing Through Heavy Ice Pack 109 

43. The Quest at her Farthest South— Jeffrey and Douglas 

taking Observations for Magnetic Dip . . .112 

44. Heavy Pressed-up Pack Ice, the Quest in the Distance — 

Commander Wild and Worsley Examining a Newly 
Formed " Lead " in the Pack Ice . . . .113 

45. The Quest Pushing North Through Rapidly Freezing Ice 114 

46. " Watering " Ship with Floe Ice 115 

47. Emperor Penguins on the Floe : A Still Evening in the 

Pack 118 

48. Frozen Spray . . . . . . . .119 

49. Commander Wild's Watch : Mcllroy, Carr, Wild, Macklin — 

The " Black " Watch : Ross, Argles, Young, Kerr, Smith 122 

50. Worsley's Watch: Douglas, Wilkins, Watts, Worsley— 

Jeffrey's Watch : McLeod, Marr, Jeffrey, Dell . .123 

51. Chipping Frozen Spray from the Gunwales . . .126 

52. The Quest Beset near Ross's Appearance of Land . 127 

53. Rowett Island, off Cape Lookout, Elephant Island . 150 


List of Illustrations 

Plate facing page 

54. The Kent " Clear- View " Screen — Approaching Cape 

Lookout 151 

55. Loading Sea-elephants' Blubber, Elephant Island . . 154 

56. Somnolent Content : a Sea-elephant on Elephant Island — 

Ringed Penguins and a Paddy Bird (Chionis alba) . 155 

57. Shackleton's Last Anchorage — McLeod and Marr clearing 

up After a Blizzard 160 

58. Sugar Top Mountain, Part of the AUardyce Range, South 

Georgia ......... 161 

59. A Glacier Face in South Georgia .... . 176 

60. A Rocky Outcrop in South Georgia .... 177 

61. Distended Whale Carcasses in Prince Olaf Harbour . 178 

62. Cape Pigeons {Daption capensis) at South Georgia . 179 

63. The Northern Coast of Drygalski Fiord — Cape Saunders 182 

64. The New Type of Whaler— The Black-browed Albatross 

or MoUymauk ........ 183 

65. A Pair of Adult Wandering Albatross — A Young Albatross 186 

66. Gentoo Penguin Feeding its Chick — The Chick after 

Feeding 187 

67. On the Way to the Cairn — Looking Shorewards from the 

Cairn 190 

68. Our Farewell to the Boss 191 

69. The Settlement at Tristan da Cunha from the Sea — View 

of the Settlement from the East .... 208 

70. Landing at Big Beach, Tristan da Cunha — A Tristan 

Bullock Cart 209 

71. Nightingale Island — Inaccessible Island . . . 224 

72. Wireless Pole being erected, Tristan — Carr and Douglas 

with Two Tristan Guides, Henry Green and Glass . 225 

73. John Glass and Family — ^The Mission House on Tristan 

da Cunha . . ... . . . . 240 

74. The " Potato Patches " on Tristan da Cunha . . 241 

75. Tristan Women Twisting Wool — ^The Tristan Method of 

Carding Wool 256 

76. Henry Green's Cottage, Tristan da Cunha — ^The Oldest 

Inhabitant of Tristan da Cunha, Miss Betty Cotton . 257 

77. View of Gough Island from the Glen Anchorage . . 262 

78. The Apostle, an Acid Intrusive near the Summit of Gough 

Island — ^The Little Glen where the New Sophora was 
Discovered ....... 263 


List of Illustrations 

Plate facikg page 

79. On the Way to the Summit 266 

80. The Glen Anchorage from the Higher Slopes . . . 267 

81. The Quest seen through the Archway Rock, Gough Island 276 

82. Dell Rocks, at the North-eastern End of Glen Beach . 277 

83. Lot's Wife Cove and Church Rocks, Gough Island . . 284 

84. Lot's Wife, Gough Island 285 

85. The Quest Entering Table Bay— The Quest in Dock at 

Cape Town ........ 288 

86. The Summit of Ascension Island ..... 289 
8y. The Abandoned Wireless Station on Ascension Island — 

Flowering Plants Growing in the Volcanic Ash at Ascen- 
sion Island ........ 304 

88. Wideawake Plain, Ascension Island — A Wideawake . 305 

89. Weatherpost Hill, Ascension Island, Looking East . . 308 

90. A View in San Miguel in the Azores .... 309 

91. Booby with Chick — A Booby Chick .... 316 

92. Types of Fish Caught in the Lagoon at St. Paul's Rocks 

— White-capped Noddies at St. Paul's Rocks . . 317 

93. Gent 00 Penguin with Two Chicks — Nesting Ground of the 

Mollymauk 320 

94. Giant Petrel at Nest 321 

95. The Surface of a Glacier, showing Numerous Crevasses . 336 

96. Sea-elephants in Tussock Grass ..... 337 

97. The Island Tree {Phylica nitida) — Sea-elephants among 

the Rocks 340 

98. Commander Worsley taking Observations of the Sun by 

Sextant — Hussey (Taking Sea Temperatures), Com- 
mander Wild and Mcllroy ..... 341 

99. Setting up Kites for the Taking of Meteorological Observa- 

tions 348 

100 An Apparatus for Bringing Up Specimens of the Sea 

Bottom ......... 349 


Shackleton's Last Voyage 



AFTER the finish of the Great War, which had 
. employed every able-bodied man in the country in 
one way or another, Sir Ernest Shackleton returned to 
London and wrote his famous epic " South," the story 
of the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition. Before it 
was finished he had again felt the call of the ice, and 
concluded his book with the following sentence : 
" Though some have gone, there are enough to rally 
round and form a nucleus for the next expedition, when 
troublous times are over, and scientific exploration can 
once more be legitimately undertaken." 

For many years he had had an inclination to take 
an expedition into the Arctic and compare the two ice 
zones. He felt, too, a keen desire to pit himself against 
the American and Norwegian explorers who of recent 
years had held the foremost position in Arctic explora- 
tion, to win for the British flag a further renown, and to 
add to the sum of British achievements in the frozen 

There is still, in spite of the long and unremitting 
siege which has gradually tinted the uncoloured portions 
of the map and brought within our ken section after 
section of the unexplored areas, a large blank space 

B 1 

2 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

comprising what is known as the Beaufort Sea, approxi- 
mately in the centre of which is the point called by 
Stefansson the " centre of the zone of inaccessibility." 
It was the exploration of this area that Sir Ernest made 
his aim. In addition he felt a strong desire to clear up 
the mystery of the North Pole, and for ever settle the 
Peary-Cook controversy, which did so much to alienate 
public sympathy from Polar enterprise. 

It is characteristic of him that before proceeding 
with any part of the organization he wrote first to Mr. 
Stefansson, the Canadian explorer, to ask if the new 
expedition would interfere with any plan of his. He 
received in reply a letter saying that not only did it not 
interfere in any way, but that he (Stefansson) would be 
glad to afford any help that lay in his power and put at 
his disposal any information which might prove valuable. 

Sir Ernest's plans were the result of several years 
of hard work with careful reference to the records of 
previous explorers, and his organization was remarkable 
for its completeness and detail. 

The proposed expedition had an added interest in 
that the whole of his Polar experience was gained in the 
Antarctic. It met with instant recognition from the lead- 
ing scientists and geographers of this country, who saw 
in it far-reaching and valuable results. The Council 
of the Royal Geographical Society sent a letter which 
showed their appreciation of the importance of the work, 
and expressed their approval of himself as commander 
<tiid of the names he had submitted as those of men 
eminently qualified to make a strong personnel for the 

Sir Ernest Shackleton was fortunate in securing the 
active co-operation in the working out of his plans of 

Inception 3 

Dr. H. R. Mill, the greatest living authority on Polar 

The scheme, however, was an ambitious one, and 
was likely to prove costly. 

The period following the end of the war was perhaps 
not a suitable one in many ways to commence an under- 
taking of this nature, for Sir Ernest had the greatest 
difficulty in raising the necessary funds. In this country 
he received the support of Mr. John Quiller Rowett and 
Sir Frederick Becker. 

Feeling that the work of exploration and the possible 
discovery of new lands in what may be called the Cana- 
dian sector of the Arctic was likely to be of interest to 
the Canadian Government, he visited Ottawa, where he 
was in close touch with many of the leading members 
of the Canadian House of Commons. He returned to 
this country well pleased with his visit, and stated that 
he had obtained the active co-operation of several 
prominent Canadians and received from the Canadian 
Government the promise of a grant of money. 

He was now in a position to start work, and 
immediately threw himself into the preparation of the 
expedition. He got together a small nucleus of men 
well known to him, including some who had accom- 
panied him on the Endurance expedition, designed and 
ordered a quantity of special stores and equipment, 
and bought a ship which cost as an initial outlay 
;^ii,ooo. Dr. Macklin was sent to Canada to buy and 
collect together at some suitable spot a hundred good 
sledge-dogs of the '' Husky " type. 

It would be impossible to convey an accurate idea of 
the closely detailed work which is involved in the pre- 
paration for a Polar expedition. Much of the equipment 

4 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

is of a highly technical nature and requires to be specially 
manufactured. Everything must be carried and nothing 
must be forgotten, for once away the most trivial article 
cannot be obtained. Everything also must be of good 
quality and sound design; and each article, whatever 
it may be, must function properly when actually put 
into use. 

At what was almost the last moment, whilst prepara- 
tions were in full swing, the Canadian Government, 
being more or less committed to a policy of retrench- 
ment, discovered that they were not in a position to 
advance funds for this purpose, and withdrew their 
support. This was a great blow, for it made impossible 
the continuance of the scheme. 

In the meantime the bulk of the personnel had been 
collected, some of the men having come from far distant 
parts of the world to join in the adventure, abandon- 
ing their businesses to do so. Some of us, know- 
ing of the scheme, had waited for two years, putting 
aside permanent employment so that we might be free 
to join when required; for such is the extraordinary 
attraction of Polar exploration to those who have once 
engaged in it, that they will give up much, often all they 
have, to pit themselves once more against the ice and 
gamble with their lives in this greatest of all games of 
chance. Yet if you were to ask what is the attraction 
or where the fascination of it lies, probably not one could 
give you an answer. 

Sir Ernest Shackleton received the blow with out- 
ward equanimity, which was not shaken when, with the 
decision of the Canadian Government, the more timorous 
of his supporters also withdrew. Always seen at his best 
in adverse circumstances, he wasted no time in useless 


Photo: F. &^ A. Sivnine 


I i 

Photo : F. &f A. Swauie 


Inception 5 

complainings, but started even at this eleventh hour to 
remodel his plans. 

Nevertheless, the situation was a very difficult one. 
He had committed himself to heavy expenditure, and 
what weighed not least with him at this time was his 
consideration for the men who had come to join the 
enterprise. At this critical point Mr. John Quiller 
Rowett came forward to bear an active part in the work, 
and took upon his shoulders practically the whole 
financial responsibility of the expedition. The import- 
ance of this action cannot be too much emphasized, for 
without it the carrying on of the work would have been 

Mr. Rowett had a wide outlook which enabled him to 
take a keen interest in all scientific affairs. Previous to 
this he had helped to found the Rowett Institute for 
Agricultural Research at Aberdeen, and had prompted 
and given practical support to researches in medicine, 
chemistry and several other branches of science. His 
many interests included geographical discovery, and he 
saw clearly the important bearing which conditions in 
the Polar regions have upon the temperate zones. He 
saw also the possible economic value of the observations 
and data which would be collected. 

His name must therefore rank amongst the great 
supporters of Polar exploration, such as the brothers 
Enderby, Sir George Newnes and Mr. A. C. Harms- 
worth (afterwards Lord Northcliffe). 

Mr. Rowett's generous action is the more remarkable 
in that he was fully aware in giving this support to the 
expedition that there was no prospect of financial return. 
What he did was done purely out of friendship to 
Shackleton and in the interests of science. The new 

6 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

expedition was named the Shackleton-Rowett Expedi- 
tion, and announcement of it was received by the public 
with the greatest interest. 

As it was now too late to catch the Arctic open season, 
the northern expedition was cancelled, and Sir Ernest 
reverted to one of his old schemes for scientific research 
in the South, which again met with the approval of the 
chief scientific bodies. 

This change of plans threw an enormous burden of 
work not only upon Sir Ernest, but also upon those of 
us who formed his staff at this period, for we had little 
time in which to complete the preparations. Dr. Macklin 
was recalled from Canada, for under the new scheme 
sledge-dogs were not required. 

The programme did not aim at the attainment of 
the Pole or include any prolonged land journey, but 
made its main object the taking of observations and 
the collection of scientific data in Antarctic and sub- 
Antarctic areas. 

The proposed route led to the following places : St. 
Paul's Rocks on the Equator, South Trinidad Island, 
Tristan da Cunha, Inaccessible Island, Nightingale and 
Middle Islands, Diego Alvarez or Gough Island, and 
thence to Cape Town. 

Cape Town was to be the base for operations in the 
ice, and a depot of stores for that part of the journey 
would be formed there. The route led eastward from 
there to Marion, Crozet and Heard Islands, and then 
into the ice, where the track to be followed was, of 
course, problematical, but would lead westwards, to 
emerge again at South Georgia. 

From South Georgia it led to Bouvet Island, and 
back to Cape Town to refit. From Cape Town, the 

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Inception 7 

second time, the route included New Zealand, Rara- 
tonga, Tuanaki (the " Lost Island "), Dougherty Island, 
the Birdwood Bank, and home via the Atlantic. 

The scientific work included the taking of meteoro- 
logical observations, including air and sea temperatures, 
kite and balloon work, magnetic observations, hydro- 
graphical and oceanographical work, including an exten- 
sive series of soundings, and the mapping and careful 
charting of little-known islands. Search was to be made 
for lands marked on the map as " doubtful." A collec- 
tion of natural history specimens would be made, and 
a geological survey and examination carried out in all 
the places visited. Ice observations would be carried on 
in the South, and an attempt made to reach and map 
out new land in the Enderby Quadrant. Photography 
was made a special feature, and a large and expensive 
outfit of cameras, cinematograph machines and general 
photographic appliances acquired. 

The Admiralty and the Air Ministry co-operated and 
materially assisted by lending much of the scientific 
apparatus. Lieut.-Commander R. T. Gould, of the 
Hydrographic Department, provided us with books and 
reports of previous explorers concerning the little-known 
parts of our route, and his information, gleaned from all 
sources and collected together for our use, proved of 
the greatest value. 

It was decided to carry an aeroplane or seaplane to 
assist in aerial observations and to be used as the " eyes " 
of the expedition in the South. Flying machines had 
never before been used in Polar exploration, and there 
were obvious difficulties in the way of extreme cold and 
lack of adequate accommodation, but after consultation 
with the Air Ministry it was thought possible to overcome 

8 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

them. The machine ultimately selected was a *' Baby" 
seaplane, designed and manufactured by the Avro 

One of the first things done by Sir Ernest Shackleton 
in preparing for the northern expedition had been the 
purchase of a small wooden vessel of 125 tons, named 
the Foca i. She was built in Norway, fitted with 
auxiliary steam-engines of compound type and 125 
horse-power. She was originally designed for sealing 
in Arctic waters, the hull was strongly made, and the 
timbers were supported by wooden beams with natural 
bends of enormous strength. The bow was of solid oak 
sheathed with steel. Her length was iii feet, beam 
23 feet, and her sides were 2 feet thick. Her draught 
was 9 feet forward and 14 feet aft. She was ketch- 
rigged, and was reputed to be able to steam at seven 
knots in still water and to do the same with sail only 
in favourable winds. 

At the happy suggestion of Lady Shackleton she 
was re-named the Quest. 

Sir Ernest received what he considered the greatest 
honour of his life. The Quest as his yacht was elected 
to the Royal Yacht Squadron. Perhaps a more ugly, 
businesslike little " yacht " never flew the burgee, and 
her appearance must have contrasted strangely with the 
beautiful and shapely lines of her more aristocratic 

She was brought to Southampton in March, 192 1, 
and placed in the shipyards for extensive alterations. 
The work was greatly impeded by the strike of ship 
workers, the general coal strike which occurred at that 
time, and by difficulties generally with labour, which was 
then passing through a very critical period. 

Inception 9 

It had been intended to take out the steam-engines 
and substitute an internal combustion motor of the 
Diesel type, but owing to the difficulties mentioned this 
had to be abandoned, and on the advice of the surveying 
engineer in charge of the work the old engines were 
retained. The bunker space was readjusted at the 
expense of the fore-hold, allowing a carrying capacity 
of 120 tons of coal, and giving a steaming radius which, 
with economy and use of sail, was estimated at from four 
to five thousand miles. 

This work was in process when it became necessary 
to alter the plans of the expedition, and Sir Ernest 
realized that the Quest, which had been considered 
eminently suitable for the northern scheme, was not so 
well adapted for the long cruise in southern waters. It 
was impossible at this stage to change the ship, but 
further alterations were made on deck and in the rigging 
generally to adapt her for the new conditions. 

Two yards were fitted, a topsail yard, 39 feet in 
length, and a foreyard to carry a large squaresail, 44 feet 
in length. The mizen-mast was lengthened to give a 
greater clearance to the wireless aerials. The existing 
bridge was enlarged, carried across the full breadth of the 
ship, and completely enclosed with windows of Triplex 
glass. The roof formed an upper bridge open to the air. 
To improve the accommodation, which was inadequate, a 
deck-house, 12 feet by 20 feet, was erected on the fore- 
deck. It contained five rooms : four small cabins, and a 
room for housing hydrographical and meteorological in- 
struments. New canvas and running gear was fitted 
throughout, and no expense spared to make her sound 
and seaworthy. Mr. Rowett was absolutely insistent that 
everything about the ship must be such as to ensure her 

10 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

safety and the safety of all on board in so far as it was 
humanly possible. To everything in connexion with the 
ship herself Sir Ernest, as an experienced seaman, gave 
his personal attention. The work of the engine-room, 
which, as he was not an engineer, he was not able to 
supervise directly, was entrusted to a consulting 

The Quest, though strong and well equipped, was 
small, and consequently accommodation generally was 
limited and living quarters were somewhat cramped. 
The forecastle was fitted as a small biological laboratory 
and geological workroom. In it were a bench for the 
naturalist and numerous cupboards for the storing of 
specimens. Leading from it on one side was a small 
cabin with two bunks for the naturalist and photographer 
respectively, and on the other was the photographic dark 

The amount of gear placed aboard the ship was 
large, and the greatest ingenuity was required to stow 
it satisfactorily. 

Two wireless transmitting and receiving sets, of 
naval pattern, were installed under the immediate super- 
vision of a wireless expert, kindly lent to us by the 
Admiralty. The current for them was supplied by two 
generators, one a steam dynamo producing 220 volts, 
and a smaller paraffin internal-combustion motor produc- 
ing no volts. The Quest being a wooden yessel, there 
was great difficulty in providing suitable " earthing." 
For this purpose two copper plates were attached to 
either side of the ship below the water-line. 

The more powerful of these sets was never very 
satisfactory, and we ultimately abandoned its use. The 
smaller proved entirely satisfactory for transmitting at 


Fhoto: Topical. 


Photo: Topical 

Inception ii 

distances up to 250 miles. The receiving apparatus was 
chiefly of value in obtaining time signals, which are sent 
out nightly from nearly all the large wireless stations, 
and which we received at distances up to 3,000 miles. 
By this means we were frequently able, whilst in the 
South, to check our chronometers ; but atmospheric con- 
ditions in those regions were very bad, and by producing 
loud adventitious noises in the ear-pieces interfered so 
much with the clarity of sounds that the obtaining of 
accurate signals was generally impossible. 

A Sperry gyroscopic compass was installed, the gyro- 
scopic apparatus being placed in the deck-house, with 
repeaters in the enclosed bridge and on the upper bridge. 
The dials were luminous, so that they could be read at 
night. This apparatus has the advantage that it is inde- 
pendent of immediate outside influences. It is usually 
supposed that at 65° north or south it ceases to be 
effective, but we found that the directive force was still 
sufficient at 69° south. It is interesting to note that this 
compass was designed by a German scientist to enable 
a submarine to reach the North Pole. It has been of the 
greatest use to ships in a general way, but for the one 
specific purpose for which it was designed it proved to 
be useless owing to the loss of directive power at the 
Poles. We found that bumping the ship through ice 
caused derangement, and as the compass took several 
hours to settle down again to normal, it proved ineffective 
whilst we were navigating through the pack. 

Fitted into the enclosed bridge and looking forward 
were two Kent clear-view screens. They were elec- 
trically driven. They proved, when running, to be 
absolutely effective against rain, snow or spray. 

The ship was fitted throughout with electric lighting, 

12 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

including the navigating lights. Whilst in the South, 
however, the necessity for economy of fuel forbade the 
use of electricity and we had recourse to oil lamps. As 
we were then completely out of the track of shipping, 
navigating lights were not used. 

Two sounding machines were installed, one an eleC' 
trically-driven Kelvin apparatus for depths up to 300 
fathoms. To obtain accurate soundings whilst the ship 
was under way, the sinker was fitted to carry sounding 
tubes, and had also an arrangement for indicating the 
nature of the bottom, whether rock, shingle or sand. 
For deep-sea work we had a Lucas steam-driven 
machine, which was affixed to a special platform on the 
port bow and supplied by a flexible tube from the steam 
pipe feeding the forward winch. This apparatus regis- 
tered depths to four miles. Sounding with it was often 
difficult on account of the swell and the liveliness 
of the Quest, but the machine itself gave every satis- 
faction. The wire used with the Lucas machine was 
Brunton wire in coils of 6,000 fathoms, diameter .028, 
weight 12.3 lbs. per 1,000 fathoms, with a breaking 
strain of 200 lbs. 

The meteorological equipment included : 

Screens, containing wet and dry bulb thermometers, 
placed in exposed positions on the upper bridge. 

One large screen, containing hair hygrograph, stand- 
ard thermometer and thermograph. 

(The heavy seas which broke over the ship and flung 
sprays over the upper bridge greatly interfered with the 
efficient working of these instruments by encrusting them 
with salt, and necessitated constant cleaning.) 

Hydrometers, for determining the specific gravity of 
sea-water, which gives a measure of the total salinity. 

Photo : Topical 

Where she was fitted out for the trip 

Inception 13 

Sea-thermometers, for determining the surface tem- 
peratures of the sea-water. 

Marine pattern mercury barometer. 

Aneroid barometers, checked daily from the mercury 
barometer, in case the latter should be broken. 

Barograph, to obtain continuous records of the air 

For upper-air work four cylinders of hydrogen and 
several hundred pilot balloons were taken. (These 
latter were sent up on many occasions from the ship, 
but the Quest proved to be so lively that it was impos- 
sible to keep them in the field of view of a telescope or 
even of field-glasses.) 

All the instruments were very kindly lent to us by 
the Meteorological Section of the Air Ministry, and were 
of standard make and pattern. 

We carried a good set of sextants, theodolites, dip 
circles and other accurate surveying instruments. 

Several chronometers of different makes and patterns 
were placed aboard. Two of them, specially rated for us 
by Mr. Bagge, of the Waltham Watch Company, gave 
excellent results and, in spite of the violent motion of the 
ship and the difficulty of keeping a uniform temperature, 
maintained a remarkably even rating. 

The medical equipment was designed for compact- 
ness and all-round usefulness. 

Sledges, harness, warm clothing, footgear and an 
amount of scientific equipment were forwarded to Cape 
Town and warehoused to await the arrival of the Quest. 

The greatest difficulty was experienced in the housing 
of the seaplane, but, after dismantling wings and floats, 
room was eventually found for it in the port alleyway, 
which it almost filled. 

14 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

Sir Ernest Shackleton, as has already been said, in 
choosing his personnel selected first of all a nucleus of 
well-tried and experienced men who had served with him 
before, appointing me as second in command of the 
expedition. They included Worsley, Macklin, Hussey, 
Mcllroy, Kerr, Green and McLeod. Applications for 
the remaining posts came in thousands, and many women 
wrote asking if a job could be found for them, offering to 
mend, sew, nurse or cook. 

Two other men with previous experience were 
obtained : Wilkins, who served with the Canadian Arctic 
Expedition under Stefansson, and Dell, who had served 
with Captain Scott in the Discovery, and was thus known 
to Sir Ernest Shackleton and myself. Lieut.-Com- 
mander Jeffrey, an officer of the Royal Naval Reserve, 
who had served with distinction during the war, was 
appointed navigating officer for the ship. Major Carr, 
who had gained much experience of flying as an officer 
of the R.A.F., was appointed in charge of the seaplane. 

A geologist was required, the selection falling upon 
G. V. Douglas, a graduate of McGill University, whom 
Sir Ernest had met in Canada. 

Mr. Bee Mason was appointed photographer and 

Amongst the remainder there was need of a good 
boy. Sir Ernest conceived the idea of throwing the 
post open to a Boy Scout, and the suggestion was 
taken up with the greatest enthusiasm by the Boy Scout 
organization. The post was advertised in the Daily 
Mail, and immediately a flood of applications poured in 
from every part of the country. These were finally 
filtered down to the ten most suitable, and the applicants 
were instructed to assemble in London, the Daily Mail 

Inception 15 

making the necessary arrangements and defraying the 
costs. These ten boys all had excellent records, and 
Sir Ernest, in finally making his selection, was so 
embarrassed in his choice that he selected two. They 
were J. W. S. Marr, an Aberdeen boy, and Norman E. 
Mooney, a native of the Orkneys. 

There remained but three places to fill : C. Smith, an 
officer of the R.M.S.P. Company, was appointed second 
engineer; P.O. Telegraphist Watts, wireless operator; 
and Eriksen, a Norwegian by birth, was taken on as 
harpoon expert. 

Sir Ernest, in order fully to carry out his programme, 
was anxious to leave England not later than August 
20th, but owing to a general strike of ships' joiners, 
dilatory workmanship and other unavoidable causes, 
the sailing was postponed well beyond that date. 

At length all was ready; food stores and equip- 
ment, which included not only the highly technical and 
specialized Antarctic gear, but also such minute details 
as pins, needles and pieces of tape, were placed on board, 
and the ship was ready for sea. 

The new expedition had been organized, equipped 
and got ready for departure all within three months. 
There are few who will realize what this means. No 
other man than Sir Ernest would have attempted it, and 
no other could have accomplished it successfully. It 
was, as he often said himself, only through the staunch 
support and active co-operation of Mr. Rowett, who 
aided and encouraged him throughout this period, that 
he was able to leave England that year. Postponement 
at such an advanced stage was impossible, and would 
have meant the total abandonment of the expedition. 
We left London finally on September 17th, 192 1. 



WE dipped our ensign in a last farewell to 
London as we passed out from St. Katherine's 
Dock, and turned our nose down-river for Graves- 
end, a tiny vessel even amongst the small ship- 
ping which comes thus far up the river. We were 
accompanied on this part of our journey by Mr. Rowett, 
who had taken a keen personal interest in everything 
connected with the expedition. Enthusiastic crowds 
cheered us at the start, and everybody we met wished us 
" Good luck and safe return." The ensign was kept in 
a continuous dance answering the bunting which dipped 
from the staffs of every vessel we met. Ships of many 
maritime nations were collected in this cosmopolitan 
river, and these, too, joined in wishing success to our 

At Gravesend Mr. Rowett left us, and Sir Ernest 
returned with him to London with the object of 
rejoining at Plymouth. A strong north-easterly wind 
was blowing, and we lay for the night oif Gravesend. In 
the small hours of the morning we were startled from 
sleep by the watchman crying, " The anchor's drag- 
ging ! " and turned out to find that we were bearing 
down on a Thames hopper that was moored near by. 
The Quest would not answer her helm, and before we 
were able to bring her up she had fouled the stays of the 
hopper with her bowsprit. Pyjama-clad figures leapt 


London to Rio de Janeiro 17 

from their bunks, and in the dim light presented a 
curious spectacle. Two or three of our men jumped on 
to the deck of the hopper, and by loosening a bolt 
succeeded in letting go one of her stays, when we swung 

Kerr rapidly raised a sufficient pressure of steam in 
the boilers to get the engines going, and we soon 
regained control. 

We brought up with our anchor, which had been act- 
ing as a dredge, the most amazing collection of stuff, 
which gave an interesting sidelight on the composition 
of the Thames floor. 

No damage was received beyond a chafe to the bow- 
sprit. We were anxious, however, to leave with every- 
thing in good order, and so proceeded to Sheerness 
Dockyard, where a new spar was put in for us by the 
naval authorities with a promptness and dispatch that 
contrasted strongly with the dilatory methods employed 
previously in the shipyards. 

We had an exceptionally fine trip down Channel 
under the pilotage of Captain F. Bridgland, who was an 
old friend of ours, having taken the ship from Southamp- 
ton to London. 

We reached Plymouth on the 23rd, and were joined 
there by Sir Ernest Shackleton and Mr. Gerald Lysaght, 
a keen yachtsman, who had been invited to accompany 
us as far as Madeira. The Boss brought with him an 
Alsatian wolf-hound puppy, a beautiful well-bred animal 
with a long pedigree, which had been presented to him 
by a friend as a mascot. " Query," as he was named, 
quickly became a fast favourite with all on board. Mr. 
Rowett also came from London to see us off, and we 
had with him a last cheery dinner. He was very popular 

i8 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

with all of us, for in addition to his support of expedition 
affairs he had taken a personal interest in every member 
of the company. 

On the 24th we steamed out into the Sound and 
moored to a buoy, where the ship was swung and the 
compasses adjusted by Commander Traill-Smith, R.N., 
who kindly undertook this important work. The 
Admiralty tug used to swing the Quest accentuated her 
smallness, for she was many times our size and towered 
high above us. 

This task completed, we put out to sea, pleased, as 
Sir Ernest Shackleton said at the time, to be making 
our final departure from a town that has ever been 
associated with maritime enterprise. 

The following extracts are from Sir Ernest Shackle- 
ton's own diary : 

Saturday y September 24/^, 192 1. 

At last we are off. The last of the cheering 
crowded boats have turned, the sirens of shore and 
sea are still, and in the calm hazy gathering dusk on 
a glassy sea we move on the long quest. Providence 
is with us even now. At this time of equinoctial 
gales not a catspaw of wind is apparent. I turn from 
the glooming immensity of the sea and, looking at 
the decks of the Quest, am roused from dreams of 
what may be in the future to the needs of the moment, 
for in no way are we shipshape or fitted to ignore 
even the mildest storm. Deep in the water, decks 
littered with stores, our very life-boats receptacles for 
sliced bacon and green vegetables for sea-stock; 
steel ropes and hempen brothers jostle each other; 
mysterious gadgets connected with the wireless, on 

London to Rio de Janeiro 19 

which the Admiralty officials were working up to the 
sailing hour, are scattered about. But our twenty-one 
willing hands will soon snug her down. 

A more personal and perplexing problem is my 
cabin — or my temporary cabin, for Gerald Lysaght 
has mine till we reach Madeira — for hundreds of 
telegrams of farewell have to be dealt with. Kind 
thoughts and kind actions, as witness the many 
parcels, some of dainty food, some of continuous use, 
which crowd up the bunk. Yet there is no time to 
answer them now. 

We worked late, lashing up and making fast the 
most vital things on deck. Our wireless was going 
all the time, receiving messages and sending out 
answers. Towards midnight a swell from the west 
made us roll, and the sea lopped in through our wash- 
ports. About I A.M. the glare of the Aquitania s lights 
became visible as she sped past a little to the south- 
ward of us, going west, and I received farewell 
messages from Sir James Charles and Spedding.^ I 
wish it had been daylight. 

At 2 A.M. I turned in. We are crowded. For in 
addition to Mcllroy and Lysaght, I have old McLeod 
as stoker. 

Sunday^ September 2^th. 

Fair easterly wind; our topsail and foresail set. 
All day cleaning up with all hands. We saw the last 
of England — the Scilly Isles and Bishop Rock, with 
big seas breaking on them; and now we head out to 
the west to avoid the Bay of Biscay. With our deep 
draught we roll along like an old-time ship, our fore- 

^ Captain and chief purser respectively of the Aquitania. 

20 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

sail bellying to the breeze. The Boy Scouts are sick 
— frankly so, though Marr has been working in the 
stokehold until he really had to give in. Various 
messages came through. To-day it has been misty 
and cloudy, little sun. All were tired to-night when 
watches were set. 

Monday, 26th. 47° 53' N., 9° 00' W. 

A mixture of sunshine and mist, wind and calm. 
Passed two steamers homeward bound, and one sail- 
ing ship was overhauling us in the afternoon, but the 
breeze fell light, and she dropped astern in the mist 
that came up from the eastward. Truly it is good to 
feel we are starting well, and all hands are happy, 
though the ship is crowded. 

Two hands have to help the cook, and the little 
food hatchway is a blessing, for otherwise it is a long 
way round. Green is in his element, though our decks 
are awash amidship. He just dips up the water for 
washing his vegetables. 

With a view to economy he boiled the cabbage in 
salt water. The result was not successful. 

The Quest rolls, and we find her various points 
and angles, but she grows larger to us each day as we 
grow more used to her. I asked Green this morning 
what was for breakfast. " Bacon and eggs," he 
replied. " What sort of eggs.^ " " Scrambled eggs. 
If I did not scramble them they would have scrambled 
themselves " — a sidelight on the liveliness of the 
Quest. Query, our wolf-hound puppy, is fast becom- 
ing a regular ship's dog, but has a habit of getting 
into my bunk after getting wet. 

We are running the lights from the dynamo, 


Photo: Sport Ss^ Genet al 


Flioto: Topical 

Photo: Sj>ort <5r» General 

Photo: Dr, MackUn 


London to Rio de Janeiro 21 

and, when the wireless is working, sparks fly up and 
down the backstays like fireflies. A calm night 
is ours. 

Tuesday, lyth — Wednesday, 2%th. 

43° 52' N., 11° 51' W. 135 miles. 

Another fine day. Not much to record. All hands 
engaged in general work on the ship. In the after- 
noon the mist arose and the wind dropped. At night 
the wind headed us a bit, and we took in the topsail. 
Marr was at the wheel in the first watch, and did well. 
Mooney, at present, is useless. A gang of the boys 
were employed turning the coal into the after-bunkers 
— a black and dusty job; but they were quite happy. 
We passed a peaceful night. This morning the wind 
practically dropped. What little there was came out 
ahead, so we took in all sail. The Quest does not 
steam very fast, 5^ being our best so far. This rather 
makes me think, and may lead to alterations in our 
plans, for we must make our time right for entering 
the ice at the end of December, and may possibly have 
to curtail some of our island work or postpone it until 
we come out of the South. This morning we are in 
glorious sunshine — the sea sapphire-blue and a cloud- 
less sky ; but, alas ! noon, in spite of our pushing, 
gives us only 135 miles. We have allowed a current 
of 7 miles N. 12° W. 

Gerald Lysaght is one of our best workers, and 
takes long spells at the wheel. Occasionally little 
land-birds fly on board, and our kittens take an 
interest in them, as yet unknowing their potential 
value as food or game ( ?). How far away already we 
seem from ordinary life ! 

22 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

I stopped the wireless last night. It is of no 
importance to us now in a little world of our own. 

Wednesday, 2%th — Thursday, September 29//?, 192 1. 
Lat, 42° 9' N. Long., 13° 10' W. Dist., 116'. 

A strong wind, with high seas and S.S.W. swell; 
strong squalls were our portion. The ship is more 
than lively and makes but little way. She evidently 
must be treated as a five-knot vessel dependent 
mainly on fair winds, and all this is giving me much 
food for thought, for I am tied to time for the ice. I 
was relieved that she made fairly good weather of it, 
but I can see that our decks must be absolutely clear 
when we are in the Roaring Forties. Her foremast 
also gives me anxiety. She is not well stayed, and I 
think that the topsail yard is a bit too much. The 
main thing is that I may have to curtail our island 
programme in order to get to the Cape in time. 
Everyone is cheerful, which is a blessing, all singing 
and enjoying themselves, though pretty well wet; 
several are a bit sick. The only one who has not 
bucked up is the Scout Mooney. He seems helpless, 
but I will give him every chance. I can see also that 
we must be cut down in crew to the absolutely efficient 
and only needful for the southern voyage. 

Douglas is now stoking and doing well. It will, 
of course, take time to square things up and for every- 
one to find themselves ; she is so small. It is only by 
constant thought and care that the leader can lead. 
There is a delightful sense of freedom from responsi- 
bility in all others; and it should be so. These are 
just random thoughts, but borne in on one as all 
being so different from the long strain of preparation. 

London to Rio de Janeiro 23 

It is a blessing that this time I have not the financial 
worry or strain to add to the care of the active expe- 
dition. Lysaght is doing very well, and so is the 
Scout Marr. 

Sir Ernest Shackleton's diary ends at this point, and 
there are no other entries till January ist, 1922. 

We now began to settle down to our new conditions 
of life. 

In the deck-house were five small cabins. The Boss 
and I had the two after ones, but at this time Mr. 
Lysaght, or the " General " as he was called by all of 
us (like most nicknames, for no particular reason), occu- 
pied one of them, whilst the Boss and I shared the other. 

Worsley and Jeffrey had a cabin running the full 
breadth of the house and the roomiest in the ship, but 
it had also to act as chart-room. Macklin and Hussey 
occupied a tiny room of six feet cubed on the starboard 
side, which contained the medicine cupboard. Here, in 
spite of restricted space, they dwelt in perfect harmony, 
due, as they were wont to say, " to both of us being non- 
smokers." They were known collectively as " Alphonse 
and D'Aubrey," but how the names originated it is 
impossible to say, for though the versatile Londoner 
might at times have passed as a Frenchman, the same 
could not be said for the more phlegmatic Scot. 

The corresponding room on the port side housed the 
meteorological instruments and the gyroscopic compass. 

Wilkins and Bee Mason had bunks in the converted 
forecastle, which contained the photographic dark room, 
a work bench for the naturalist, and numerous cupboards 
for the storing of specimens. Wilkins, an old cam- 
paigner, had used much foresight and ingenuity in 

24 Shackleton^s Last Voyage 

fitting it up, and had utilized the limited space to the 
utmost advantage. Their cabin was indeed a dim recess 
and at first proved very stuffy, but before we were many 
days out Wilkins had designed and fitted an air-shoot, 
which acted very well and enormously improved the 
ventilation. Green, the cook, had a cabin beside his 
galley, which was always warm from the heat of the 
engine-room — too much so to be comfortable in temper- 
ate climes, but he looked forward to the advantage he 
would derive when we entered the cold regions. All the 
others lived aft and occupied bunks which were situated 
round the mess-room and opened directly into it, un- 
screened except by small green curtains, which could be 
drawn across when the bunks were unoccupied. It was 
by no means a pleasant or convenient arrangement, but, 
with the small size of the ship and general lack of space, 
the only one possible under the circumstances. The 
mess-room itself was small, boasting the simplest of 
furniture : two plain deal tables, four forms, a cupboard 
for crockery, and a small sideboard. At the foot of the 
companion-way was a rack of ten long Service rifles. 
Two of the forms were made like boxes with lids, to act 
as lockers. 

The seating accommodation just admitted all hands 
to sit together, not counting the cook and the cook's 
mate and four men who were always on watch. They 
sat down to a second sitting. The food was of good 
quality, plain, and simply cooked. Three meals a day 
were served : breakfast, lunch, and supper. The Boss 
presided, and under his cheery example the new hands 
soon learned to make light of the strange and rather 
uncomfortable conditions. 

Every day for breakfast we had Quaker oats, with 

London to Rio de Janeiro 25 

brown sugar or syrup (salt for the Scotsmen) and milk, 
followed by bacon, with eggs (as long as they lasted), 
afterwards sausage or some equivalent, bread or ship's 
biscuit, marmalade, and tea or coffee. 

For lunch we usually had a hot soup, followed by 
cold meat, corned beef, tongue or tinned fish, and bread 
or biscuit, cheese, jam and tea. 

Supper consisted of a hot meat dish, with vegetables, 
followed by some sort of pudding, bread or biscuit, and 

The galley was small, and contained a diminutive 
range and a number of shelves fitted with battens to 
prevent things flying off with the roll of the ship. The 
oven accommodation was small, and admitted of the 
cooking of one thing only at a time. Here Green 
reigned over his pots and pans, which, owing to the 
motion of the ship, proved more often than not to be 
elusive and refractory. 

At meal-times the dishes were passed through a large 
window port into the messroom by the cook's mate, and 
received by the " Peggy " for the day, who served the 
food and waited at table. Duty as " Peggy " was per- 
formed by each man in turn (with the exception of the 
watch-keeping officers), who also washed the dishes, 
cleaned the tables, and generally tidied up after each 
meal. Sir Ernest Shackleton had made it plain to all 
hands that no work was to be considered too humble for 
any member of the expedition. 

Table-cloths were never used, but the tables were 
well scrubbed daily, so that they soon took on a fine 
whiteness. Fiddles were a permanent fitting except 
when we were in port, for the Quest never permitted us 
to do without them at sea, whilst in the worst weather 

26 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

even they proved useless to prevent table crockery from 
being thrown about. 

In addition to Query there were on the ship two 
other pets in the form of small black kittens, one pre- 
sented to us as a mascot by the Daily Mail, the other, I 
believe, the gift of a girl to one of the crew. They 
suffered a little at first from sea-sickness, but soon 
developed the most voracious appetites, and showed the 
greatest persistence in coming about the table for food. 
They clambered up one's legs with long sharp claws, 
" miaowed," and at every opportunity put their noses 
into jugs and plates. No amount of rebuffs had any 
effect upon them, and they had a curious preference for 
food on the table to that which was placed for them in 
their own dishes. Two more importunate kittens I have 
never seen. It is to be feared that one or two of the 
party slyly encouraged them, for we could never cure 
them of their bad habits. 

The companion steps leading from the scuttle to the 
messroom were very steep, and at this time Query had 
not learned the art of going up and down, though he 
acquired it later. It used to be a common sight to see 
his handsome head framed in the opening of the window 
port through which Green passed the food, gazing wist- 
fully at the dainty morsels which were being transferred 
to other mouths. 

These first days with the Boss were very cheery 
ones, and I like to look back on them. There was little 
refinement on the ship and more than ordinary dis- 
comfort, yet each meal-time was a happy gathering of 
cheery souls, and conversation crackled with jokes, in 
the perpetration of which Hussey was by no means the 
least guilty. The strain of preparation had been a heavy 

London to Rio de Janeiro 27 

one, and Sir Ernest seemed to be enjoying the quiet, 
the freedom and the mental peace of our small self- 
contained little world. I think he liked to find himself 
surrounded by his own men, and he was always at his 
best when he had a definite objective to go for. 

There is something about life at sea, and the com- 
panionship of men who have lived untrammelled lives 
free from the restraints of convention, that I find hard 
to describe. I think it must be that it is more primitive. 
Certainly, one drops into it with a contentment that 
contrasts strongly with the feeling of effort with which 
one braces oneself to meet the more conventional 
circumstances of the return to civilized life. It is, I 
suppose, a matter of heredity and transmitted instinct 
which makes falling back to the primitive more easy 
than progress, meaning by " progress " the advance of 
artificiality and the tremendous speeding up of modern 
existence. Some such instinct must be present, for what 
else is there to tempt one from a cosy fireside and the 
morning paper? 

We kept three watches, the watch-keeping officers 
being Worsley, Jeffrey and myself. The Boss kept no 
particular watch, but was always at hand to give instruc- 
tions and take charge on special occasions. In my 
watch were Mcllroy, Macklin and Hussey ; in Worsley's, 
Wilkins, Douglas and Watts; in Jeffrey's, Carr, Eriksen 
and Bee Mason. Dell and McLeod acted as stokers. 
The two Scouts were at first employed in a generally 
useful capacity, helping the cook and lending a hand 
wherever required. In addition to his deck duties, each 
man had his own particular job to attend to. Before 
we had been out many days it became clear to all that 
in this trip we were to have no picnic, and that in life 

28 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

on the Quest we would have to adapt ourselves to all 
sorts of discomforts and inconveniences. However, we 
were committed to our enterprise, our work lay before 
us, and we settled down cheerfully to make the best of 

A few extracts from the official diary will give an 
indication of conditions about this time. 

Tuesday, September 2jth, 

The wind came round to S.E. and freshened up 
during the day. The Quest is behaving badly in the 
short head seas. We have had to take in sail and are 
proceeding under steam, making poor progress. Bee 
Mason and Mooney are rather off colour. 

September 28/^. 

The wind has increased, with heavier seas. 
During the day the engines were stopped for adjust- 
ment. Kerr says the crank shaft is out of alignment, 
and expects further trouble. This happening so early 
in the voyage does not promise well for the trip, for, 
as the Boss says, we are already late and cannot afford 
much time in port. 

September 2,0th. 

A moderate gale blowing from the S.W. We 
made no headway into it, and the Boss decided to 
heave to with the engines at slow speed. This has 
given us an idea of the Quest's behaviour in bad 
weather. The Boss is pleased with her sea-going 
qualities, for in spite of fairly heavy seas she has 
remained dry, taking aboard very little water.' She 

^ The papers at the time made much of this gale. It was, however, little 
more than a strong blow and a zephyr compared with what we were to 
experience before our return to these same latitudes on our homeward run. 

By courtesy of Mr. John Lister 


; 1')-. iUackiin 


London to Rio de Janeiro 29 

has a lively and very unpleasant motion, which has 
induced qualms of sea-sickness in many of the " land 
lubbers." Bee Mason and young Mooney are hors 
de combat. They are both plucky. The Scout makes 
no complaint, but it is obvious that life to him just 
now is a terrible misery. He has tried hard to carry 
on his work. We wish we could do something for 
him, but there is little comfort on the ship. 

October 2nd. 

Head winds have continued to blow, against which 
we have made little headway. The engines have 
developed a nasty knock which is appreciable to all 
on the ship. Kerr insists that an overhaul is neces- 
sary, and Sir Ernest has decided to make for Lisbon. 
We accordingly headed up for " The Burlings," and 
picked up the light about 6 p.m. 

On October 3rd Kerr had to reduce the pressure 
of steam in the cylinders, as we were now proceeding 
slowly along the coast of Portugal in the direction of 
Cape Roca. The coast-line is very picturesque, dotted 
all along with old castles and pretty little windmills. 
We plugged slowly on, passed by many steamers which 
signalled us "A pleasant voyage," to which we were kept 
busy answering " Thank you." One of the beautiful 
modern P. & O. liners, coming rapidly up from behind, 
altered course to pass close to us, and we could not help 
envying her speed and comfort as, making nothing of 
the short steep seas in which we were rolling and pitch- 
ing in the liveliest manner, she rapidly drew out of sight 

Just before nightfall we reached Cascaes, at the 
mouth of the Tagus, where the pilot came aboard, but 

30 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

decided not to proceed till daybreak. We lay at anchor 
for some hours, and I rarely remember a more uncom- 
fortable period than we spent here, jerking at the cable 
with a short steep roll that made one positively giddy. 
It was more than the Portuguese pilot could stand, for 
he moved us farther up the river into shelter, enabling 
us to get the first comfortable sleep since leaving the 
Scilly Islands. 

We were taken by tug up the fast-running Tagus to 
Lisbon in the early morning, and later the Quest went 
into dock. 

The work was entrusted to Messrs. Rawes & Co., 
and put in hand without delay. The source of all the 
trouble in the engine-room proved to be the crank shaft, 
which was out of alignment, and thus caused the bear- 
ings to run hot. The high-pressure connecting rod was 
found to be badly bent. The rigging also was altered 
and reset up. 

We did not get away from Lisbon until Tuesday, 
October nth. 

Those whose work did not confine them to the ship 
made the most of their time ashore, the first move being 
to a hotel for the luxury of a hot bath and a well-cooked 
dinner. We were warmly entertained by the British 
residents, who during the whole of our stay showed us 
the greatest kindness and hospitality. Mooney was 
carried off by the Boy Scouts of Lisbon, who showed him 
the sights of the place. Marr, although an enthusiastic 
supporter of the Boy Scout movement, did not care to 
spend his whole time as a " kilted spectacle for curious 
Latins," and, doffing his uniform, accompanied the 
others in their movements. Amongst other things, we 
paid a visit en masse to a bull-fight, which we found to 

London to Rio de Janeiro 31 

be a much more humane undertaking than those carried 
out under the old Spanish system. The bull is not 
killed and, though goaded by the darts of the picadors 
to a fury, does not seem to be subjected to great ill-treat- 
ment. The horses, instead of being old screws meant to 
be gored, are beautiful animals, which the matadors take 
the greatest care to protect. 

We had many visitors on board the ship, including 
the British and American Ministers, who were shown 
round by Sir Ernest. All, as in London, expressed their 
amazement at the size of the Quest, imagining her to be 
far too small for the undertaking. 

We set out on October nth for Madeira, having 
expended seven days of precious time. 

On leaving the Tagus we again encountered strong 
head winds, which lasted four days, during which the 
Quest's movements were such as to upset the strongest 
stomachs. Bee Mason and Mooney were once more 
hors de combat, and few except the hardened seamen 
amongst us escaped feeling ill, though they managed to 
carry on their work. 

I think there must be very few people in these days 
of luxurious floating palaces that ever really have to 
endure the agonies of sea-sickness. If they do feel ill 
they can retire to their bunks, where attentive stewards 
minister to their wants. Few, however, have been in 
such a condition that they dared not take to their bunks, 
but have spent days and nights on deck, sleepless, 
sodden and cold, in a vigil of misery unbroken save to 
turn to when " eight bells " announces the watch, and 
struggle through the work until the striking of the bells 
again announces relief, unable to taste or bear the 
thought of food, and with a stomach persistently and 

32 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

painfully rebellious in spite of an aching void. Such is 
the fate of those who go to sea in small vessels, without 
stewards and without comforts, and where there is work 
to be done. I have nothing but admiration for the way 
some of the sea-sick men were sticking to their jobs. 
Among them was Marr, the Boy Scout, who showed 
the greatest hardihood and pluck. 

Winds continued to blow from ahead till, on 
October 15th, the weather changed and we had a beauti- 
ful clear day, with little wind or sea and bright sunshine. 
Mooney and Bee Mason continued to suffer from sea- 
sickness all the way, the latter becoming quite ill with 
a high temperature. As the conditions we had met were 
likely to prove mild as compared with those we would 
encounter in the stormy southern seas, Sir Ernest 
Shackleton decided to send both of them home from 
Madeira. Let it be said here that it is probable that, 
if they had had their own way, each of them would 
have elected to continue with us, and this decision 
to send them back carries with it absolutely no stigma, 
for they showed extraordinary pluck and bore their trials 
uncomplainingly. To Mooney especially, a young boy 
gently nurtured, who had never before left his Orkney 
home, this portion of the trip must have meant untold 
misery. We greatly regretted losing both these com- 

On leaving Lisbon the Boss had put the other Scout, 
Marr, to work in the bunkers, where he went through a 
gruelling test. He came out of the trial very well, show- 
ing an amount of hardihood and endurance that was 
remarkable. He suffered from sea-sickness, but never 
failed to carry out his allotted task, and thoroughly 
earned his right to continue as a permanent member 

London to Rio de Janeiro 33 

of the expedition. I find in his diary the following 
entry : 

I volunteered to go down the stokehold, and my 
first duty was that of trimming coal. It is a delightful 
occupation. It consists of going down to the bunkers 
and shovelling coal to within easy reach of the fire- 
men. The bunkers are pitch black, and the air — 
well, there is no air, but coal dust. This gets into one's 
ears, eyes, nose, mouth and lungs; one breathes coal 
dust. After I had trimmed sufficient coal, I com- 
menced stoking. I got on fairly well for a first 
attempt, but did not like the heat. 

Another entry which this boy made during the bad 
weather shows what he must have gone through, though 
nothing which he said at the time would have led one 
to suspect it : 

Indeed, I was feeling more dead than alive . . . 
what with the rolling of the ship and the unsteady 
nature of my limbs — I was sea-sick, and I was much 
afraid I should fall into the fire or down the bilges. 
When I came off (my watch) I immediately made for 
my bunk, where I remained, without partaking of my 
breakfast or dinner, until 12.0 noon, when I got up 
again for my next watch. ... 

Before leaving England the Boss had ordered a 
brass plate to be made, on which was inscribed 
two verses of Kipling's immortal "If?" and had it 
placed in front of the bridge. Hussey, after a heavy 
day's coaling in bad weather, was inspired to a version 
specially applicable to the Quest, which reads as 

34 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

If you can stand the Quest and all her antics, 

If you can go without a drink for weeks, 

If you can smile a smile and say, " How topping ! " 

When someone splashes paint across your "breeks"; 

If you can work like Wild and then, like " Wuzzles," 
Spend a convivial night with some "old bean," 
And then come down and meet the Boss at breakfast 
And never breathe a word of where you've been; 

If you can keep your feet when all about you 
Are turning somersaults upon the deck, 
And then go up aloft when no one told you. 
And not fall down and break your blooming neck ; 

If you can fill the port and starboard bunkers 
With fourteen tons of coal and call it fun. 
Yours is the ship and everything that's on it, 
Coz you're a marvel, not a man, old son. . . . 

We arrived at Madeira on the i6th. Kerr had again 
a number of adjustments to make in the engine-room, 
and, with Smith, toiled hard all the time we were in 

Madeira has been a favourite stopping place for all 
expeditions to the Antarctic. Here on October 4th, 
1822, Weddell was received and assisted by Mr. John 
Blandy, whose firm has rendered help to many sub- 
sequent expeditions. On this occasion we were wel- 
comed by the present Mr. and Mrs. Blandy and visited 
their beautiful estate on the hill. 

We left after a two days' stay. " The General " was 
due to return from here, but he had made himself so 
universally popular that Sir Ernest persuaded him to 
go on as far as the Cape Verde Islands. Neither our 
discomforts nor the vagaries of the Quest had upset him 
in the slightest, and he had proved himself a useful 
member of the crew, taking a trick at the wheel and 

London to Rio de Janeiro 35 

carrying on the work on deck generally. We now 
entered fine weather, and, running comfortably before 
the north-easterly trade winds, reached St. Vincent 
on October 28th. The engines had continued to give 
trouble, and Kerr reported that extensive repairs and 
readjustments would be necessary before continuing 
farther. They were carried out quickly and effectively 
by Messrs. Wilson, Sons & Co., who acted as our agents, 
and most generously supplied us on leaving with one 
hundred tons of coal free of all charge. 

We said good-bye to " General " Lysaght, whom we 
saw depart with genuine regret. We had a farewell 
dinner, at which was produced all the best the 
Quest could offer, and when the Boss proposed " The 
General ! " we drank his health and wished him luck. 
Although he was returning to home and comforts, he 
would, I believe, had it been possible, have accompanied 
us farther on our way. At the conclusion he was 
presented with an illuminated card, the combined work 
of all the artists aboard, but chiefly, I think, of Wilkins, 
which bore the following poem composed by the Boss : 

To Gerald Lysaght, A.B. 

After these happy days, spent in the oceanways, 

Homeward you turn ! 
Ere our last rope slipped the quay and we made for the open sea 

You became one of us. 
You have seen the force oi the gale fierce as a thresher's flail 

Beat the sea white; 
You have watched our reeling spars sweep past the steady stars 

In the storm-wracked night. 
You saw great liners turn ; high bows that seemed to churn 

The swell we wallowed in ; 
They veered from their ordered ways, from the need of their time 
kept days, 

To speed us on. 

36 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

Did envy possess your soul ; that they were sure of their goal 

Never a damn cared you, 
For you are one with the sea — in its joy and misery 

You follow its lure. 
In the peace of Chapel Cleeve, surely you must believe, 

Though far off from us. 
That wherever the Quest may go ; what winds blow high or low — 

Zephyrs or icy gale : 
Safe in our hearts you stand ; one with our little band. 

A seaman, Gerald, are you ! — E. H. S. 

On the 28th we set out, making course for St. Paul's 
Rocks. We enjoyed excellent weather, with smooth seas 
on which the sun sparkled in a myriad of variegated 
points. We felt the heat considerably, which is natural, 
considering the confined space and general lack of 
artificial means of keeping cool, such as effective fans, 
refrigerators and iced water. Most of us slept on deck, 
under the stars which twinkled above us, large and 
luminous, in the tropic nights. 

The Boss took Marr out of the stokehold about this 
time and placed him to assist Green as cook's mate, a 
not very romantic job, but one which he carried out with 
his usual thoroughness. He had by now thoroughly 
found his feet, and took a deep interest in the sea life 
of the tropics : flying fish fleeing in shoals before the 
graceful bonito, which, leaping in the air to descend 
with scarcely a splash, followed in relentless pursuit; 
dolphins, albacore and the sinister fins of occasional 

On November 4th a large school of porpoises came 
about the ship and played around our bows. Eriksen 
seized the opportunity to harpoon one of them, which 
we hauled aboard. Wilkins found in its stomach a 
number of cuttle-fish beaks. The meat we sent to the 

London to Rio de Janeiro 37 

larder. The porpoise is not a fish, but a mammal, warm 
blooded and air breathing. It provides an excellent red 
meat, against which British sailors have for many years 
felt a strong prejudice, but which is eaten with relish by 
Scandinavians. We found it a pleasant change from 
tinned food. 

One day we encountered a magnificent five-masted 
barque becalmed in the doldrums, all sail set and flap- 
ping gently with the slight roll. She was flying the 
French ensign, and on closer approach proved to be the 
La France, of Rouen. She presented such a beautiful 
sight,' with her tall masts and lofty spars reflected in the 
smooth sea, that we altered course to pass close to her 
and enable Wilkins to get some photographs. Sir 
Ernest spoke her captain, who replied in excellent 
English, asking where we had left the trade winds, 
voicing what is the uppermost thought in the mind of 
every master of a sailing ship, the probability and direc- 
tion of winds, on which depends their motive power. 

We were amused to notice that though the Boss sent 
his voice unaided across the water with the greatest ease, 
the Frenchman required a megaphone to make audible 
his replies. 

These beautiful vessels are fast being driven off the 
ocean in the competition with modern steamships, yet 
it is with a feeling of genuine regret that one sees them 
go, for with them departs much of the romance of the 
sea. The apprentice of to-day takes his training in 
steamers, and the modern seaman is beginning to regard 
sail as a " relic of barbarism." ^ In the days when I first 
went to sea one might count masts and yards by the 

* On our return to England we learned that this beautiful ship had become 
a total wreck on the Great Barrier Reef of Australia. 

* An expression of Jeffrey's. 

38 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

hundred in harbours such as Falmouth or Queenstown, 
but now they are to be found only in ones and twos. 
They were fine ships, the old clipper ships, and bred a 
fine type of seaman, yet " the old order changeth," and 
in spite of an attempt to bring them into general use 
again, it is to be feared that they will gradually die out 

Early on the morning of November 8th we sighted 
St. Paul's Rocks, standing solitary and alone in the 
midst of a wide tropic sea. They were the first objec- 
tive, and Sir Ernest arranged for a party to land there. 
We lay to under their lee and dropped a boat. Imme- 
diately a countless shoal of sharks came about us, their 
fins showing above water in dozens on every side. A 
considerable swell was running, making the approach 
difficult, but we effected a landing in a little horseshoe- 
shaped basin lying in the midst of the rocks. Wilkins, 
assisted by Marr, took ashore camera and cinematograph 
apparatus, and was able to get some excellent photos 
of birds, 

Douglas, assisted by Dell, carried out an accurate 
survey and made a geological examination of the rocks. 
Hussey and Carr carried out meteorological work, taking 
advantage of a fixed base to send up a number of 
balloons for measuring the upper air currents. I had 
charge of the boat, with Macklin, Jeffrey and Eriksen 
as crew. 

We noticed that the cove in which we had made the 
landing was simply alive with marine life of every kind, 
and so returned to the ship for fishing tackle. For bait 
we used crabs, which swarm in large numbers all over 
the rocks. There were two sorts, a large red variety and 
a smaller one dark green in colour. They were evil- 

London to Rio de Janeiro 39 

looking things, and seemed always to be watching us 
intently, moving stealthily sideways, now in this direc- 
tion, now in that. At the least sign of approach they 
darted with amazing rapidity into crevices in the rocks. 
Occasionally we saw them gather their legs under them 
and give the most extraordinary leaps of from two to 
three feet. Their jaws worked continually and water 
sizzled and bubbled at their mouths. Some of them had 
found flying fish which had flown ashore or been brought 
by the birds. It was a horrible sight — they tore the flesh 
into fragments with their powerful claws and crammed 
it into their mouths. The ownership was often disputed, 
the bigger crab always winning. Occasionally a small 
crab, hoping for some of the crumbs which might fall 
from the rich man's table, would creep cautiously up 
behind. The bigger crab, however, permitted no depre- 
dations, but, waiting till the smaller one reached within 
a certain limit, would kick out suddenly with an unoccu- 
pied leg, causing the smaller one to hop hastily out of 

We spiked what we required with a boat-hook, and 
they made excellent bait, for it was necessary only to 
lower the hook to get an immediate bite. The landing 
of the catch, however, proved not so easy. The little 
cove swarmed with sharks, which were attracted by the 
boat, and came about us in scores. Looking down 
through the clear water, we could see fish in plenty 
flitting hither and thither with leisurely whisks of their 
tails, obviously quite at ease and not at all perturbed by 
the proximity of the marauders. The moment, however, 
we hooked one and started to pull it up, the sharks 
turned like a streak and went for it with such voracity 
that we had the greatest difficulty in getting it to the 

40 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

surface. What was worse, they frequently bit through 
the lines and took the hook also. Finally, we were com- 
pelled to reinforce the lines with wire. On one occasion 
I succeeded in getting a fish clear of the water, and, 
thinking that for once I had eluded the sharks, was in 
the act of swinging it aboard when there was a flash 
of something white, an ugly snout broke water, and I 
was left gazing stupidly at half a head which still 
dangled from my line. The shark had got the rest. 
Indeed, it was not safe to put a hand over the gunwale, 
for immediately a head rose towards it. 

We had with us in the boat a harpoon and trident, 
and getting tired of losing our fish, waged war upon the 
sharks. We harpooned several, which we killed and 
threw back to their brethren, who voraciously set upon 
them and tore them to bits. While they were thus dis- 
tracted we secured a number of fish. There is something 
sinister and evil-looking about sharks. Some of them 
grow to large size, attaining a length of thirteen or four- 
teen feet ; there are records of larger ones than that, the 
largest I know of being twenty-five feet, but this is 
exceptional. Their mouths, which are composed of a 
curved slit, are situated on the under surface of the head 
some distance from the snout. Their teeth, which are 
sharp and set backwards, are not true teeth, but modified 
scales. The eyes are small and poorly developed, but 
they have a phenomenal sense of smell which attracts 
them from long distances to potential sources of food. 
Macklin and Hussey dissected the brain of one of them, 
which showed that the olfactory bulbs — the portion 
devoted to the sense of smell — is larger than all the rest 
of the brain. 

These rapacious beasts are the most dreaded and 

London to Rio de Janeiro 41 

most generally hated of all animals in the seas, and have 
accounted for many sailors who have fallen overboard. 
They are very suspicious of bait on a line, but have often 
been caught and hauled on board. It was at one time 
the custom on sailing ships to perpetrate in revenge all 
sorts of mutilating atrocities upon them, such as gouging 
out the eyes and filling the sockets with gunpowder, 
removing the heart and entrails, afterwards throwing the 
animal back into the sea to be torn to pieces by others 
of the species. 

In addition to the sharks, we caught with the trident 
a number of large, round, black-coloured fish of a kind 
commonly regarded as poisonous. Their flesh looked so 
firm and white and excellent that we decided to try them. 
When cooked, they proved to be of good flavour, and 
no one suffered from the experiment of eating them. 

We caught a number of smaller " black fish," but 
I took them for specimens only, for I have seen them 
in other waters and know them as garbage eaters of the 
worst kind, though it is possible that those we caught 
here, living far from the filth and sewage of towns, might 
prove edible enough. The kind, however, of which we 
obtained the greatest number were yellow and blue. 

Merely to sit in the boat and gaze down through 
these pellucid waters was a pleasure, for the bottom 
showed clearly, covered with countless seaweeds, whilst 
over it passed fish of all sizes and of the brightest and 
most varied colourings in endless panorama. 

We enjoyed the day immensely, providing as it did 
a pleasant change from the routine of ship's life. 

The recall flag was hoisted by the Boss at 4 p.m., 
when we gathered up our lines and took off the shore 

42 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

Before finally leaving the rocks we encircled them 
slowly to enable Worsley to get a series of soundings. 
There is very little shoaling in the approach to these 
rocks, which rise sheer and straight from the sea bottom. 
The soundings of the depth of water round about 
them, which were verified and amplified by those taken 
by Worsley on this occasion, show that the " hundred 
fathom line " is nowhere distant more than four cables 
from the rocks, and in places is within nine hundred feet. 

As we set off on our course we were surrounded by a 
number of bonito, which followed us in graceful leaps 
and dives. They can be caught sometimes from the jib- 
boom by dangling a strong line, baited with a piece of 
white rag, in the foam of the bow wave. When pulled 
out of the water they are difficult to hold on account of 
a strong vibration which is set up by rapid movement of 
the tail. It is customary to have a sack handy into which 
the fish is dropped, when it can be safely passed on 

For a while after leaving St. Vincent the engines had 
run smoothly, but now they started to give more trouble, 
requiring the most careful nursing by Kerr and his staff. 
The rigging also was not proving satisfactory, and the 
scarfed topmast yielded in a most alarming manner to 
the strain of the gaff. Sir Ernest Shackleton began to 
worry tremendously about her condition, and confided to 
me that he had trusted too much to others in the prepara- 
tion of the engine-room. The work had been placed in 
the hands of a consulting engineer in whom he had 
reason to feel that he could place the most implicit 

Sir Ernest decided, however, before continuing the 
southern part of the expedition, to put into harbour at 

London to Rio de Janeiro 43 

Rio de Janeiro and make a complete overhaul of every 
part of the ship under his own direct supervision, though 
he was possessed of no special engineering knowledge. 
We had intended calling first at South Trinidad Island, 
but, conditions becoming worse, we made direct for Rio. 

Before entering harbour we repainted the ship, 
changing the white deck-house and superstructure and 
the yellow funnel to a uniform naval grey. This was 
done at the suggestion of Jeffrey, who also entered 
energetically into the carrying of it out, and there is no 
doubt that the grey was a much more serviceable colour. 
The ports, skirtings and boats were painted black, which 
relieved the monotony of the grey and gave the whole a 
pleasing effect. 

On the night of November 21st we sighted the lights 
of Rio de Janeiro stretching in a row along the sea shore. 
It was a lovely still night, and the Boss was in good 
spirits. We gathered outside the surgeon's cabin whilst 
Hussey strummed tunes on his banjo. The Boss loved 
these little musical gatherings, and though he himself 
was unable to produce a tune of any sort, he liked 
listening to music. 

The next day dawned with a wonderful sunrise 
which lit up the mountains round the harbour, tinting 
them with crimson, rose and pink. A slight mist on the 
surface of the water was turned into a wonderful red 
haze, through which appeared the masts and spars of 
sailing ships at anchor. The harbour is magnificent, 
dividing with Sydney the claim to be the finest in the 

We steamed slowly in, past the Sugar Loaf 
Mountain which guards the entrance to the harbour, 
and came to anchor opposite the town. 



SIR ERNEST SHACKLETON lost no time in 
going ashore to make arrangements for the 
necessary work, and set it going with the least 
possible delay. Messrs. Wilson, Sons & Co. were 
appointed agents, and their engineer, Mr. Howard, 
came aboard the same day. In addition, a consulting 
engineer was employed to make a report on the con- 
dition of the engines. The crank-shaft was badly out 
of alignment, and from this had resulted all the other 
disabilities which had so continuously cropped up 
during the voyage. It was considered also that the 
heavy four-bladed propeller was too great a strain for 
the small engines, and that a lighter two-bladed pro- 
peller, giving of a greater number of revolutions, would 
prove more satisfactory. The scarfed topmast, which 
had been badly strained, required renewing, for which 
purpose it would be necessary to take out the foremast. 

It was decided also, whilst this work was in process, 
to recaulk and tar the hull. 

On the second day we moved across the harbour to 
Wilson's Island, where the ship was emptied of all stores 
and equipment, which were placed for the time being in 
a large covered lighter. A large floating crane, of which 
we were allowed the use by courtesy of the Brazilian 
Government, was placed alongside, and tlie foremast 
taken out and placed in the sheds. This completed, the 


Rio to South Georgia 45 

ship was placed on the slips and the work proceeded 
rapidly, the firm concentrating their resources to get us 
ready for sea in the shortest possible time. Mr. Howard 
worked unceasingly on our behalf, and we received at 
all times the greatest help from all responsible members 
of the firm. 

Sir Ernest Shackleton decided during the early part 
of the voyage that the living accommodation, which had 
been adequate for his original scheme, was insufficient 
for a programme which entailed prolonged periods 
aboard ship, and planned an addition to the deck-house. 
The existing structure was carried forward to within a 
few feet of the foremast and the new portion made two 
feet broader on each side. This meant enclosing the 
main hatch, but the difficulty was overcome by building 
another hatch in the roof of the deck-house and cutting 
the coamings of the original hatch flush with the deck. 
Although an uncomfortable arrangement in many ways, 
it had the advantage that Macklin could open it up at 
any time he wished to go below independent of weather 
conditions, for under the old arrangement the getting 
up of stores was limited to fine weather, there being no 
other access to the hold than through the hatch, render- 
ing the work in other conditions very dangerous. 

Whilst this work was in progress it was impossible to 
live aboard, and a number of the British residents offered 
to billet the different members of the expedition in their 
houses. To Mr. and Mrs. Causer, Mr. and Mrs. Lloyd, 
the Secretary of the British Club, and the members of 
the Leopoldina Chacara I must take this opportunity of 
offering my most sincere thanks for their kindness and 
hospitality. Thanks are due, not only to these " god- 
parents " (as we called them), but to others too numerous 

46 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

to mention, from the British Minister downwards, from 
all of whom we received the greatest hospitality and who 
took a keen interest in our project. 

In spite of all the energy employed in getting the 
Quest ready for sea, it became apparent that it would 
take fully four weeks to complete the work. The delays 
caused through repairs since leaving England had now 
amounted to six weeks. It would be quite impossible to 
carry out the programme and reach Cape Town in time 
to enter the ice this season. It was this factor which 
caused Sir Ernest to decide to abandon, or postpone, 
the first part of the programme and make direct for 
South Georgia. Unfortunately, much of our scientific 
apparatus, stores and nearly all the special winter equip- 
ment, clothing, sledges, etc., had been sent to Cape 
Town, which was to have been our base of operations. 
Sir Ernest decided, however, that much of the foodstuff 
necessary to make up the deficiencies could be obtained 
locally, and hoped to get sledges, dogs and winter cloth- 
ing at South Georgia. The German Deutsckland expe- 
dition, under Filchner, had been abandoned there, and 
when we visited the island in 19 14 we found that the 
whole of the equipment had been carefully stored and 
was in excellent condition. Sir Ernest hoped that much 
of this would still be available. Previous to this, in the 
belief that we should still be carrying on the full pro- 
gramme, the aeroplane had been sent on to the Cape by 
mail steamer, and we should therefore be compelled to 
do without it at the time when it would be of the greatest 
value. At the end of the month most of the essential 
work had been completed, but there was still much that 
required doing. Mr. Howard was anxious that we should 
delay another week to enable him to put in the necessary 

Rio to South Georgia 47 

finishing touches, but already we were late, and the Boss 
decided that further delay was impossible. 

The new addition to the deck-house, intended as a 
forward messroom, was a mere unfinished shell. Four 
bunks were hastily and roughly knocked up, and we left 
with no other furniture than a plain deal table, which 
was built round a central stanchion, and two benches. 
I may say here of the work put in for us at Rio by 
Messrs. Wilson & Sons that it was all good and reliable, 
and withstood all the usage to which it was subjected, 
and Kerr never again had any trouble with the engines 
beyond minor adjustments. Mr. Howard had done all 
that was possible short of building new engines, which 
he maintained was what we required, making no secret 
of his opinion that the present ones were unsuitable for 
the work to be undertaken. There was nothing for it, 
however, but to go forward, and Sir Ernest, though fully 
alive to the Quest's disabilities, determined to do the 
best possible under the circumstances. He had that 
peculiar nature which shows at its best under difficulties. 
He was the most undefeated and unconquerable man I 
have ever known. His whole life had been spent in 
forcing his way against what to most people must have 
seemed unsurmountable obstacles. Yet he had always 
triumphed, and I, who knew him, felt no doubt that he 
would carry this expedition through to a successful con- 
clusion. Yet, if the reader will but cast his mind over 
the part of this book which he has read and think of 
how, since the inception of the expedition, one difficulty 
after another had risen to baulk the enterprise, and how 
on board the ship one thing after another had gone 
wrong and required repair, he will agree that the Boss 
might well have thrown in his hand and retired from the 

48 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

unequal struggle. But nothing could have been more 
foreign to his mind — each obstacle but strengthened his 
resolve to carry on, and we who served with him never 
for one moment felt distrust or doubt that under his 
leadership all would go well. 

Whilst at Rio a change was made in the personnel. 
Eriksen returned home, and three new men were taken 
on : Young and Argles as stokers, and Naisbitt as cook's 

We left Wilson's wharf on December 17th, and lay 
at anchor for the night in a small bay on the Nictheroy 
side, close to the entrance to the harbour. In the morn- 
ing we made a final complete stowage, lashing securely 
all the loose articles on deck and getting the ship 
trimmed ready for sea. Whilst we were engaged in this 
an urgent message was sent by motor boat for Dr. 
Macklin to go to Sir Ernest, who had slept ashore as 
the guest of the Leopoldina Chacara, and who had been 
taken suddenly ill. Macklin went off at once, but on 
arrival found him fully recovered, saying that he had 
merely felt a slight faintness and had really sent for him 
to know whether the stores were complete. That this 
attack had a greater significance than was appreciated 
at the time later events showed. 

We set off on December i8th. Sir Ernest, who had 
naturally worried a good deal over the continual troubles 
which cropped up, became once more his old cheery self, 
looking forward to a respite from further alarms regard- 
ing the welfare of the ship. 

On the day of sailing Jeffrey suffered an injury to his 
leg which Macklin pronounced serious, and ordered 
three weeks' complete rest in bed, to which Jeffrey, being 
an active man, none too willingly assented. As a matter 


Photos: Wilkins 


Rio to South Georgia 49 

of fact, as a result of this injury he was incapacitated for 
nearly six weeks. Sir Ernest kept his watch. 

The first few days at sea were fine and pleasantly 
cool. The old system of watches was altered, the men 
taking their turns at the wheel in rotation, following 
alphabetical order. For the day's work they were called 
at 7.0 A.M. and knocked off at 5.0 p.m. The messes were 
divided. Sir Ernest, myself, Hussey, Mcllroy, Worsley, 
Macklin, Kerr, Jeffrey, Carr and Douglas messed in the 
new wardroom forward, and Smith took charge of the 
after messroom, with Dell, McLeod, Marr, Young, 
Argles and Watts. Green and Naisbitt messed in the 

Three of the bunks in the forward messroom were 
occupied by Mcllroy, Kerr and Carr, the fourth being 
used as a locker for their personal gear. 

Although we had increased the accommodation, it 
was still far from being commodious, and the bare, 
unfinished condition of the new quarters offered little 
comfort. " Roddy " Carr was appointed to make some 
cupboards and shelves, and his work, though a bit rough 
and ready, answered its purpose well, which was the 
main thing. Hussey congratulated him on his new 
appointment as joiner, calling him thereafter " Roddy 
Carr-penter," which I can assure my readers is the least 
of the atrocious puns which we endured from him. 
Always a cheery soul, his very presence was worth much 
to us on the trip, for it is the small jest which goes 
farthest and still sparkles when the more subtle wit has 
fallen flat. 

On December 22nd we saw our first albatross, a 
fine " Wanderer *' which attached itself to the ship and 
followed us on our way South. We saw also a 

50 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

" Portuguese man-o'-war." The two form a combination 
rarely seen in the same latitude (30^ 47' S.). 

The albatross has a wonderful flight, and our flying 
experts, Carr and Wilkins, watched the bird as it soared 
and dipped and " banked " and " stalled " and per- 
formed numerous evolutions, for each of which they had 
a technical or a slang expression. 

I had the 4.0-8.0 a.m. watch on December 24th, 
during which the wind blew up wet and misty and came 
ahead. The Boss gave instructions to call the hands to 
take in sail. Whilst the square-sail was being taken in a 
corner carrying a heavy block and shackle was whipped 
across the deck, catching Carr a violent blow in the face. 
He was badly stunned, but picked himself up, with hand 
to face, blood flowing freely from between his fingers. 
When examined, it was found that his nose was broken. 
After some trouble the surgeons replaced the bones in 
position, but Carr, standing in front of a looking-glass, 
attempted to improve the work, with the result that the 
operation had to be carried out a second time, with 
pertinent remarks from Hussey as to the effects upon 
his personal appearance if further interfered with. 

Later in the day the mist cleared and the sun 
came out. In the evening we were able to set sail 

This being Christmas Eve, we sat after supper and 
talked of the various Christmases we had spent. Each 
man pictured the Christmas he would like to spend 
to-morrow if he got the chance. It is funny how we 
cling, in spite of long years of disillusionment, to the 
mind-pictures of our childhood, and conjure up visions 
of a snow-covered countryside, with robins, holly trees, 
waits, and all the things that go into the Christmas card 

Photo: Dr. Macklin 


Fnoto: li'iikins 


Rio to South Georgia 51 

We forget the warm, wet, miserable Christmas days ; and 
perhaps it is just as well. 

Our position, situated as we were in the midst of a 
waste of stormy waters, was not an ideal one, but we 
looked forward to celebrating Christmas in a cheery way. 
Mr. and Mrs. Rowett had sent us as a parting gift a big 
box of Christmas fare, which included such delicacies 
as turkeys, hams, plum puddings, and muscatels and 
raisins. The evening was fine, and in spite of sundry 
croakings from Hussey, our weather prophet, we antici- 
pated a cheery Christmas dinner. 

During the night it became apparent that a gale was 
brewing, and Hussey's prediction seemed to be only too 
correct, for by Christmas morning the Quest was heaving 
and pitching and behaving in such a lively manner that 
we saw that any attempt at festivity on this day would 
be futile. At breakfast-time it was almost impossible to 
keep anything on the table; cups, plates and crockery 
generally were thrown about, and the fiddles proved 
useless to keep them in position. We therefore put 
away Mrs. Rowett's delicacies for a more favourable 
occasion. Green had a hard and trying time in his 
galley. The Boss told him not to bother about serving 
a decent lunch, but to serve out each man w^ith a good 
thick bully-beef sandwich. This we ate in the shelter 
of the alleyways, well braced against the roll of the ship. 
It was a pleasant surprise when Green was able to pro- 
duce some hot cocoa, which from its taste I suspected 
to have been made from engine-room water. It was, 
however, hot and wet and comforting to our chilled 

For our Christmas dinner we had a thick stew, which 
was not bad. Two bottles also materialized, one of rum 

52 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

and one of whisky. Each man was allowed a tot of 
whichever he preferred. Rum, being the stronger, was 
generally selected. The Boss gave us the toast of *' Our 
good friends, John and Ellie Rowett," which we drank 
enthusiastically. Afterwards the Boss asked each man 
where he had spent the last Christmas, and it was inter- 
esting to find how much scattered over the globe we had 
been. The Boss was in London, Mcllroy and myself 
were in Central Africa, Worsley in Iceland, Macklin in 
Singapore, Jeffrey in New York, Kerr in Hamburg, 
Carr in Lithuania, McLeod in Mauritius, Naisbitt in 
Rio, and Young in Cape Town. Green was wandering 
somewhere round the East as steward of a tramp 
steamer, and of all of us only the Boss, Hussey and 
Marr, the Boy Scout, seemed to have spent theirs at 

During the day we were visited by numbers of sea 
birds which seemed to be in no way perturbed by the 
high winds : albatross, whale birds, Mother Carey's 
chickens. Cape pigeons and a Cape hen. It was cheer- 
ing to see them again, these old friends of ours, and to 
watch their flight as they sailed cleverly from the shelter 
of one wave to another, rarely meeting the full force of 
the gale. 

On the 26th the weather had abated somewhat, 
though a strong wind continued to blow from the west. 
The temperature dropped to 60° P., making the air quite 
chilly, and we were glad to don heavier clothing. 

Kerr came to me with a report that the forward water 
tank was empty. He had sounded several times, and 
had gone below to tap the sides, the tank yielding a 
hollow note, so that there was no doubt about it. The 
small after tank, which had been freely used since leav- 

Rio to South Georgia 53 

ing Rio de Janeiro, was also nearly empty, so that there 
was very little fresh water left on the ship. It was 
necessary to report this to Sir Ernest, though I did not 
like doing so, for I knew that the former troubles had 
caused him much worry, and he was now in hopes that 
he had heard the last of them. Though he took the 
news, which was serious enough, in all calmness, I could 
see that it caused him some uneasiness. We had to 
economize rigidly in the use of what water was left, using 
it for cooking and drinking purposes only, and making 
the best use we could of sea water for washing and clean- 
ing. There was a small exhaust tank in the engine- 
room, which collected the steam after it had passed 
through the cylinders. The amount of water from this 
source was small, and tasted somewhat oily, but it helped 
to eke out the supply. Kerr removed the tank lid and 
made a search from inside for the site of the leak, which 
proved fortunately to be not in the walls of the tank itself 
but at the junction with the feed pipe. 

During the night of the 27th-28th the wind again 
freshened. I had the middle watch. By 2.0 a.m. a 
furious gale was blowing from the W.N.W. Rapidly 
rising seas came along in quick succession with big curl- 
ing tops, and breaking with a roar ran along our rails 
with a venomous hiss. The wind was on our starboard 
quarter, and under topsail and square-sail we made good 
speed before it. The ship's log registered nine knots. 
With each drive forward of the big seas the ship overran 
her engines, ultimately compelling us to shut off steam. 
We were making such good headway that I was loath to 
heave-to, and we continued to rush along in a smother of 
foam and spray, veering and twisting to such an extent 
that the man at the wheel had all his work cut out to 

54 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

maintain a course and prevent her from broaching-to. I 
was afraid that some of the gear might carry away, and 
strained continuously into the darkness ahead. There 
was, however, something about the leap and swing of 
the ship as she tore along that caused our spirits to rise 
and created a tremendous feeling of uplift. 

I was relieved at 4.0 a.m. by Worsley, who carried on 
for another two hours. At 6.0 a.m. the seas had risen 
to such an extent that Sir Ernest decided to heave-to, 
and all hands were called to take in sail. Putting the 
ship straight before the wind we let go the square-sail 
with a run, all hands rushing forward to gather up the 
canvas and stow it securely. Dell, jumping to assist 
another man, got his foot caught in a coil of rope, which, 
running out at high speed, threw him violently off his 
feet, causing an injury from which he took months to 
recover. We let go the topsail sheets and started to 
clew up, the wind causing the sail to flap with loud 
reports and bending the yard like a bow. Worsley and 
Macklin clambered aloft to take it in and pass the 
gaskets which secure it to the yard. 

The gale increased in violence. I was agreeably 
surprised with the Qtiest's behaviour, for she lay-to much 
more comfortably than I had expected, and took com- 
paratively little water over her sides. There was enough, 
however, to make things uncomfortable, for it filled the 
waist of the ship, flooded the cabins, and sweeping along 
the alleyways entered the galley and extinguished the 
fires. Green stuck valiantly to his post and managed at 
each meal-time to serve us out some good solid sand- 
wiches and, what was of especial value under the cir- 
cumstances, a good hot drink, which sent a warm glow 
through our arteries and put new life into us. We con- 

Rio to South Georgia 55 

siderably reduced the amount of water coming on board 
by placing a series of oil bags over the bow, which 
subdued the seas in a manner scarcely credible except 
to those who watched its effect upon them, as with break- 
ing tops they rushed angrily upon us, suddenly to lose 
all their sting and slip harmless under our keel. With 
regard to the use of oil bags, if they are to be used at all, 
it is necessary to let the oil run freely, though not neces- 
sarily wastefully. Small driblets are valueless and not 
worth the trouble of putting over the side. 

The next day there was still a strong sea running, 
but it was merely the aftermath of the gale, which lost 
its sting about midnight. In the morning the sun came 
out and brightened things up considerably. Later in 
the day we were able to set sail and proceed on our way. 
Our friendly sea-birds, which had disappeared during 
the worst of the storm, returned and followed in our 

We had not long been under way when Sir Ernest 
approached, saying quietly : " Wild, you came to me 
with bad news the other day; I have some news for 

"Good or bad.?" I asked. 

" Bad," he replied; " worse than yours; bad enough 
perhaps to stop the expedition." 

He then told me that Kerr, who had been the 
harbinger of so much evil tidings, had again to report 
the discovery of a most serious condition. Whilst clean- 
ing fires he had discovered a leak in the furnace from 
which the water bubbled out and ran in a thin stream 
down the sides. He was unable to state definitely the 
exact condition, which could not be examined until our 
arrival in South Georgia, as it required that the fires 

56 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

should be drawn to enable him to creep bodily into the 
furnace. He explained that it might be a small matter 
which could be repaired, or it might prove to be so serious 
that the boiler could not be used further. In spite of 
the quiet way in which Sir Ernest took this news, and 
the calm which he outwardly exhibited, I think it proved 
to be a pretty severe blow and the cause of a good deal 
of worry. 

Indeed, all this recurrence of trouble from below 
decks, in departments which he personally had not been 
able to supervise, must have proved very trying. From 
the very first inception of the expedition he had had 
difficulties innumerable which might well have broken 
the spirit of a lesser man. 

For the present Kerr was instructed to keep a watch- 
ful eye on the condition and, unless it appeared to be 
getting worse, to carry on under reduced pressure. 

The wind again blew up to a moderate gale from the 
westward on December 30th, much less severe, however, 
than the last one, though with very violent squalls. We 
ran off before it, making good speed, and though the 
rising seas rushed down upon our stern as if to poop us, 
the Quest rose to let them pass frothing and sizzling, but 
harmless, under our counter. 

Towards evening, however, both wind and sea had 
increased, and Sir Ernest decided to take in sail and 
heave-to. Much water came on board and found its 
way into Sir Ernest's cabin and my own, the doors of 
which opened on to the waist of the ship. The bunks 
were sodden, so much so that Sir Ernest left his and 
made up a bed on one of the benches in the wardroom, 
refusing to deprive any other man of his bunk. During 
the long spell of bad weather he had spent nearly the 

Rio to South Georgia 57 

whole time on the bridge, and though I repeatedly sug- 
gested to him that he should lie down and rest, he would 
not do so. On this particular night he took Worsley's 
watch as well as his own, so that Worsley's rest might 
not be disturbed. He was always doing little things like 
this for other people. 

About this time I began to feel a little bit uneasy, 
for it seemed to me that he was doing too much and 
subjecting himself to too great a strain. 

Macklin's diary shows that he had the wheel during 
the second dog-watch, and was relieved at 8.0 p.m. by 
Sir Ernest, who told him to lash the wheel and go to bed. 

Macklin noticed, however, that the Boss was looking 
tired and ill, and urged him to call Worsley (whose real 
watch it was) and turn in himself. The Boss would not 
hear of it, saying : 

" You boys are tired and need all the sleep you can 

The diary says : 

He was looking so tired that I offered with some 
diffidence, for I am not a trained seaman, to stay on 
myself, saying that on the least sign of anything unto- 
ward happening I would blow a whistle. Somehow 
or other a long conversation ensued, in which he told 
me many things. He said : 

" If this crack in the furnace proves serious I may 
have to abandon the expedition — my reputation will 
stand it — but I am not beaten; John Rowett under- 
stands me, and will trust me to make the best of things, 
even if I have to get a new ship." 

He reverted to his original northern scheme, 
saying : 

58 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

" The Quest would have been suitable for that; in 
the Davis Strait, even if we lost her, we should have 
had no difficulty in reaching land, where we could 
subsist on game and carry on without her." 

So ended the Old Year. New Year's Day brought 
us a calm sea with long oily swell, and over all a drench- 
ing mist. Being a Sunday little work was done, and all 
hands were allowed a rest after the somewhat trying 
days we had just experienced. 

With the new year Sir Ernest Shackleton again 
commenced to write in his journal, which I insert 

January ist, ig22. 

Rest and calm after the storm. The year has 
begun kindly for us; it is curious how a certain date 
becomes a factor and a milestone in one's life. Christ- 
mas Day in a raging gale seemed out of place. I 
dared not venture to hope that to-day would be as it 
was. Anxiety has been probing deeply into me, for 
until the very end of the year things have gone awry. 
Engines unreliable; furnace cracked; water short; 
heavy gales ; all that physically can go wrong, but the 
spirit of all on board is sound and good. 

There are two points in the adventures of a diver, 
One when a beggar he prepares to plunge, 
One when a prince he rises with his pearl. 

January 2nd^ 1922. 

Another wonderful day, fine, clear, a slight head 
wind, but cheerful for us after these last days of stress 
and strain. At i p.m. we passed our first berg. The 
old familiar sight aroused in me memories that the 
strenuous years had deadened. Blue caverns shone 

Rio to South Georgia 59 

with sky-glow snatched from heaven itself, green 
spurs showed beneath the water. 

And bergs mast high 
Came sailing by, 
As green as emerald. 

Ah me ! the years that have gone since in the pride 
of young manhood I first went forth to the fight. I 
grow old and tired, but must always lead on. 

January yd^ 1922. 

Another beautiful day ; fortune seems to attend us 
this New Year, but so anxious have I been, when 
things are going well, I wonder what internal difficulty 
will be sprung upon me. All day long a light wind 
and clear sky was our happy portion. I find a diffi- 
culty in settling down to write — I am so much on the 
qui vive; I pray that the furnace will hold out. 

Thankful that I can 
Be crossed and thwarted as a man. 

January ^th, 1922. 

At last, after sixteen days of turmoil and anxiety, 
on a peaceful sunshiny day, we came to anchor in 
Gritviken. How familiar the coast seemed as we 
passed down : we saw with full interest the places we 
struggled over after the boat journey. Now we must 
speed all we can, but the prospect is not too bright, for 
labour is scarce. The old familiar smell of dead 
whale permeates everything. It is a strange and 
curious place. 

Douglas and Wilkins are at different ends of the 
island. A wonderful evening. 

In the darkening twilight I saw a lone star hover 
Gem-like above the bay. 

6o Shackleton's Last Voyage 

These were the last words written by Sir Ernest 

I continue my own narrative. 

Early in the morning of Wednesday, January 4th, we 
sighted Wallis Island, and soon after the main island of 
South Georgia opened into view, with its snow-clad rocky 
slopes and big glaciers running to the sea. With fair 
wind and in smooth water we passed along the coast. 
Sir Ernest at sight of the island had completely thrown 
off his despondency, became once more his active self, 
and stood with Worsley and myself on the bridge, pick- 
ing out through binoculars, with almost boyish excite- 
ment, the old familiar features, and recognizing places 
with such words as, " Look, there's the glacier we 
descended ! " or, " There, do you see, coming into view, 
the slope where we lit the Primus and cooked our 
meal ? " He kept his spirits throughout the day, and it 
was with the greatest pleasure that I recognized once 
more the old buoyant, optimistic Boss. 

The day cleared beautifully, and we entered Cumber- 
land Bay in bright sunshine, with not a ripple on the 
surface of the water. How familiar it all seemed as we 
rounded the point and entered Gritviken Harbour, with 
the little station nestling at the foot of the three big 
peaks, the spars of the Tijuca, the small whalers along 
the pier; all exactly as we had left them seven years 
before. The Boss, looking across at the slopes above 
our '' dog-lines," remarked, '* The Cross has gone from 
the hillside ! " ' 

The poles which had been set up by us to mark the 
north and south direction were still standing; we were 

^ Referring to a conspicuously placed cross set up by the crew of the 
Deutschland to one of their members who had died there. 

Rio to South Georgia 6i 

informed that they were used regularly by the whalers 
in adjusting their compasses. 

We passed the spit with the little Argentine meteoro- 
logical station, behind which lay the house of the 
Government officials, and dropped anchor in the Endur- 
ance's old anchorage. 

One familiar landmark was missing — the little 
hospital hut in which I had lived with Mcllroy, Macklin, 
Hussey, Crean and Marston, the dog-drivers of the last 
expedition. We found later that it had been moved 
from its old site close to the " dog-lines " to a more 
central position amongst the huts of the station. 

Mr. Jacobsen, the manager, an old friend of ours, 
came aboard, and shortly afterwards returned to the 
shore with Sir Ernest, who was full of vigour and 

I had the boat lowered and went ashore with Mcllroy, 
Hussey, Carr, Macklin and some others to look about 
our old quarters. 

The season was now midsummer, the snow had dis- 
appeared from the lower slopes, and with the bright 
sunshine and warmth the place had a very different 
aspect from what it had when we were here in 19 14, much 
earlier in the season. In other respects there was little 
change, and we recognized amongst the workers at the 
station a number with whom we had been familiar; in 
particular, one of the flensers, a hard-bitten individual 
who was standing with spiked sea-boots on a huge whale 
carcass, assisting the stripping process by deft cuts here 
and there with his long-handled knife. 

We visited our old hut in its new situation. It was 
now being used as a hospital again, and a young Danish 
doctor was in charge. We passed along to its old site 

62 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

beside the stream, which runs clear and icy cold straight 
from the snows. There was much less volume of water 
than when we were here before, but the little basin we 
had cut out as a bathing place was still there. Here, 
with the others, I used to take a morning dip. That was 
in the days of my hardihood. Macklin used to lie down 
in it, and stand in the snow to dry himself. 

We went on to the *' dog-lines," passing en route 
the little cemetery, which we glanced at casually enough. 
The stakes to which we had secured the tethering lines 
were still standing as we had left them, as were also the 
boards with which we had made a flooring for the tent. 
We climbed the hill to a lake, on the frozen surface of 
which we used to exercise the dogs — it was now a sheet 
of open water. We sat down on the banks, enjoying the 
lovely sunshine, and watched the countless skua gulls 
and terns which, attracted by the unwonted visitors, flew 
close down over our heads. The younger spirits, full 
of exuberance, and revelling in the change from the 
confinement of the ship, threw stones at them, and 
tempted Query, who had accompanied us, to retrieve 
pieces of wood from the lake. 

On our way back we were accosted by an incongruous 
figure — a coal-black nigger, on whose head was perched 
a bowler hat many sizes too small. He addressed us 
with a marked American twang : 

" Say, you boys from the Quest, you goin' to the 
South Pole, ain't you.^ Wal, guess I'm comin' along 
with ya ! " 

We guessed he wasn't, and passed on. We learned 
from Mr. Jacobsen that he was a stowaway from St. 
Vincent, who was a perfect nuisance to them, and who 
was being sent away ai the earliest opportunity. 

Rio to South Georgia 63 

This being the first time we had been on an even keel 
since leaving Rio de Janeiro, we had dinner in comfort 
and spent a cheery evening, the Boss being full of jokes. 
At the finish he rose, saying, " To-morrow we'll keep 
Christmas." I went on deck with him, and we discussed 
a few details of work. He went to his cabin to turn in. 
I arranged for an " anchor watch " to be kept, and also 
turned in early for a good sound sleep. 



ON Thursday, January 5th, I was awakened about 
3.0 A.M. to find both of the doctors in my cabin — 
Macklin was lighting my oil lamp. Mcllroy said : 

" We want you to wake up thoroughly, for we have 
some bad news to give you — the worst possible.'' 

I sat up, saying : 

" Go on with it, let me have it straight out ! " 

He replied : " The Boss is dead ! *' 

It was a staggering blow. 

Roused thus in the middle of the night to receive 
this news, it was some minutes before I felt its full 
significance. I remember saying mechanically : 

" The Boss dead ! Dead, do you mean.? He can't 
be dead ! " 

On asking for particulars, I learned from Macklin 
that he was taking the 2.0-4.0 a.m. anchor watch. He 
was patrolling the ship, when he was attracted by a 
whistle from the Boss's cabin, and on going in, found 
him sitting up in his bunk. His own account, written 
almost immediately after, is as follows : 

Was called at 2.0 a.m. for my watch. A cold 
night but clear and beautiful, with every star showing. 
I was slowly walking up and down the deck, when I 
heard a whistle from the Boss's cabin. I went in, and 
he said : " Hullo, Mack, boy, is that you } I thought 
it was." He continued : *' I can't sleep to-night, can 


^^i^'^^-^..^^^ ^^ " 

Photo: Wilkins 


Photo : Wilkins 


Death of Sir Ernest Shackleton 65 

you get me a sleeping draught ? " He explained that 
he was suffering from severe facial neuralgia, and had 
taken fifteen grains of aspirin. " That stuff is no 
good ; will you get me something which will act ? " 

I noticed that although it was a cold night he had 
only one blanket, and asked him if he had no others. 
He replied that they were in his bottom drawer and 
he could not be bothered getting them out. I started 
to do so, but he said, '' Never mind to-night, I can 
stand the cold." However, I went back to my cabin 
and got a heavy Jaeger blanket from my bunk, which 
I tucked round him. He was unusually quiet in the 
way he let me do things for him. . . . He talked of 
many things quite rationally, and finding him in such 
a complacent mood, I thought it a good opportunity 
to emphasize the necessity of his taking things very 
much more quietly than he had been doing. ..." You 
are always wanting me to give up something. What 
do you want me to give up now ? " This was the last 
thing he said. 

He died quite suddenly. 

1 remamed with him during the worst of the attack, 
but as soon as I could leave him I ran to Mcllroy and, 
shaking him very roughly I am afraid, said : " Wake 
up, Mick, come at once to the Boss. He is dying ! " 
On my way back I woke Hussey, and told him to get 
me certain medicines. It must have been rather a 
shocking awakening for both of them, but they leapt 
up at once. Nothing could be done, however. I 
noted the time — it was about 2.50 a.m. 

I had Worsley called and informed him of what had 
occurred. To the rest I said nothing till the morning. 

66 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

At 8.0 A.M. I mustered all hands on the poop, and 
told them the bad news. Naturally it was a great shock 
to them all, especially to those who had served with 
him before and thus knew him more intimately. I added 
briefly that I now commanded the expedition, which 
would carry on. 

On that day, and on the several that followed, rain 
fell heavily, fitting in with our low spirits. 

I immediately set about making arrangements for 
sending home the sad news to Lady Shackleton, and 
for notifying Mr. Rowett. 

I sent for Watts, our wireless operator, and asked 
him if he could establish communication. He said he 
would try. From his log : *' My ambition was to get 
the type 15 set working, so as to pass the news as 
quickly as possible. The whole set I stripped and 
tested thoroughly, and ' made good ' minor defects, but 
luck was still against me. The dynamo was run at 
5.45 P.M., and whilst testing the installation the machine 
suddenly raced, and fuses were blown out, so further 
working of the set had to be abandoned." 

I went ashore to see Mr. Jacobsen, who was deeply 
shocked at the news. I learned from him that there 
was no wireless apparatus on the island other than those 
carried by the oil transport steamers, none of which, 
however, had a sending range sufficient to get into touch 
with a receiving station from here. He told me that 
the Alduera, a steamer lying at Leith Harbour farther 
round the coast, was due to sail in about ten days. He 
said that if I cared to go to Leith and make arrange- 
ments with her captain for sending the news, he would 
put at my disposal the Lillle Karl, a small steam whaler 
used by him for visiting different parts of the island. 

Death of Sir Ernest Shackleton 67 

I accepted his offer, and whilst the vessel was being 
got ready went with Mcllroy and Macklin to notify the 
resident magistrate. He was away at another station, 
but I saw Mr. Barlas, the assistant magistrate. It is 
curious how one notices small things at a time like this. 
One incident stands out vividly in my memory. At 
the moment of my telling him he was lighting a cigarette, 
which he dropped on the table-cloth, where it continued 
to burn. I remember picking it up for him and placing 
it where it could do no harm. This done I left for Leith 
with Mcllroy, who during the whole of this time was of 
the greatest help and assistance. Everyone at Leith 
showed the greatest kindness and sympathy, and Captain 
Manson, of the Albuera, readily undertook to send off 
the message as soon as he got within range of any 
wireless station. 

Arrangements for the disposal of the body I left to 
Macklin, and to Hussey I entrusted the care of papers 
and personal effects. 

At first I decided to bury Sir Ernest in South 
Georgia. I had no idea, however, of what Lady Shackle- 
ton's wishes might be, and so ultimately decided to send 
him home to England. The doctors embalmed the 
body, which was placed in a lined coffin kindly made 
for us by Mr. Hansen, of Leith. There was a steamer 
named Professor Gruvel lying in Gritviken Harbour, 
which was due to sail in about ten days, and her captain, 
Captain Jacobsen, offered to carry the body as far as 
Monte Video, from where it could be sent on by mail 

As soon as the necessary arrangements had been 
made we carried him ashore. All hands mustered 
quietly and stood bareheaded as we lifted the coffin, 

68 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

covered by our silk white ensign, to the side of the 
Quest, and passed it over into a motor launch. All the 
time the rain soaked heavily down. From the pier we 
carried him to the little hospital and placed him in the 
room in which we had lived together seven years 

The next day we carried him to the little church, 
which is situated so romantically at the foot of towering 
snow-covered mountains, over ground which he had so 
often trod with firm, eager steps in making the final 
preparations for the start of the Endurance expedition. 

Here I said good-bye to the Boss, a great explorer, 
a great leader and a good comrade. 

I had served with him in all his expeditions, twice 
as his second-in-command. I accompanied him on his 
great journey which so nearly attained the Pole, shared 
with him every one of his trials and vicissitudes in the 
South, and rejoiced with him in his triumphs. No one 
knew the explorer side of his nature better than I, and 
many are the tales I could tell of his thoughtfulness and 
his sacrifices on behalf of others, of which he himself 
never spoke. 

Of his hardihood and extraordinary powers of endur- 
ance, his buoyant optimism when things seemed hopeless 
and his unflinching courage in the face of danger I have 
no need to speak. He always did more than his share 
of work. Medical evidence shows that the condition 
which caused his death was an old standing one and was 
due to throwing too great a strain upon a system weak- 
ened by shortage of food. I have known personally and 
served with all the British leaders of exploration in the 
Antarctic since my first voyage in the Discovery. For 
qualities of leadership and ability to organize Shackleton 



Fkoi,:: i^-uK. 

Death of Sir Ernest Shackleton 69 

stands foremost and must be ranked as the first explorer 
of his day. 

I felt his loss, coming as it did, most keenly. 

In order to ensure safe disposal of the body, and to 
arrange for its transference at Monte Video, I detailed 
Hussey to accompany it home. I could ill spare him, 
but I considered him the most suitable man I could select 
for the purpose. Naturally it was a disappointment to 
him to give up the expedition, but he accepted the 
responsibility without demur, and I am grateful to 
him for the spirit in which he complied with my 

As subsequent events turned out, Hussey received 
a message at Monte Video from Lady Shackleton ex- 
pressing her wish that Sir Ernest should be buried in 
South Georgia, which was the scene of one of his greatest 
exploits, and which might well be described as the 
" Gateway of the Antarctic." The coffin was returned 
to Gritviken by the Woodville, through the courtesy of 
Captain Least, and Sir Ernest was ultimately buried in 
the little cemetery beside our old " dog-lines." Of his 
comrades, only Hussey was present at the funeral, for the 
rest of us had already sailed into the South, but there were 
many amongst the hardy whalers of South Georgia who 
attended, men who knew him and could, better than most 
people, appreciate his work. Nor was the sympathetic 
presence of a woman lacking, for at the funeral was Mrs. 
Aarberg, wife of the Norwegian doctor at Leith, who 
with kindly thought had placed upon his grave a wreath 
made from the only flowers on the island, those which 
she had cultivated with much care and patience inside 
her own house. She was the only woman on South 

70 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

I have not the least doubt that had Sir Ernest been 
able to decide upon his last resting-place, it is just here 
that he would have chosen to lie, and would have pre- 
ferred this simple funeral to any procedure carried out 
with greater pomp and ceremony. 

Not here ! the white South has thy bones ; and thou, 

Heroic sailor-soul, 
Art passing on thine happier voyage now 

Toward no earthly Pole/ 

* Adaptation from Tennyson's lines on Franklin. 



We can make good all loss except 
The loss of turning back. — Kipling. 

THOUGH we all felt very keenly the loss we had 
suffered in the death of the Boss, we could not 
allow our depression of spirits to take too strong a hold 
on us, for there was much work to be done. 

The season was now well advanced, and I had to 
make up my mind at once as to what we were going to 
do. Sir Ernest Shackleton's death, occurring at this 
critical juncture, left me with no knowledge of his plans, 
for he had withheld any definite decision as to future 
movements until he should be able to arrange for another 
complete overhaul of the engines. Since hearing of the 
crack in the furnace he had outlined several alternative 
propositions without, however, showing any definite 
leaning to any one of them. 

The entry in his diary of January ist shows how 
fully he realized the condition of the engines. Yet he 
added : " But the spirit of all on board is sound and 
good " ; and later, " I must always lead on " ! There is 
not the slightest doubt that he intended to go on with 
the work, and I knew that had he lived he would have 
found some way to carry on. 

My position, when summed up, was as follows : 

I was out of communication with the rest of the 
world, and there was no possibility of my receiving any 


72 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

message from Mr. Rowett. I had therefore to act for 

The Antarctic open season was well advanced, and 
thus limited the time available for manoeuvring in the 
ice. I had therefore to act without delay. 

With regard to the ship, the recent heavy storms had 
shown her to be a fine sea-boat, capable of standing any 
weather at sea. Rigging and hull were sound. The 
troubles which had so continuously cropped up since our 
leaving England had shown, however, that the engines 
could not be regarded as reliable. 

We were short of both food stores and equipment, 
for our depot for the South was to have been Cape 
Town, and as a result of all the delays involved since 
our start we had not been able to go there and take them 
up. The food stores included those things most suitable 
for cold regions. The general equipment included 
warm clothing, footgear, sledging gear and harness; 
special ice equipment in the way of ice-picks, ice- 
anchors and hand harpoons; oil and paraffin for the 
engines and dynamos, and a quantity of scientific gear. 

As to personnel, I knew that I had with me men who 
would staunchly stand by me and support me in whatever 
decision I should come to. 

Sir Ernest had spoken on one occasion, just before 
arrival at South Georgia, of proceeding down Bransfield 
Strait, finding a suitable spot somewhere on the western 
side of Graham Land, and freezing the ship in for the 
winter. When summer appeared he would cross Graham 
Land to the Weddell Sea and explore the coastline on 
that side as far as time and conditions should permit. 

Of his different plans, this and his published pro- 
gramme of proceeding eastwards and making an attempt 

Preparations in South Georgia 73 

to penetrate the pack ice as near to Enderby Land as 
possible, and from there to push south, were the only 
two which I could consider. 

As to the first, for the carrying out of this I should 
require a large quantity of stores, sledging equipment 
and good winter clothing. As before stated, these were 
at Cape Town, and unless I could obtain them in South 
Georgia this scheme must fall through. 

Sir Ernest's last message home had been that all was 
well with the ship and the expedition, and he had never 
had a chance to announce publicly the final situation. 
Mr. Rowett might therefore wonder at any change of 
plan occurring after his death. On this score, however, 
I was not greatly concerned, for I felt that in anything 
I should undertake I would have his support and carry 
his trust. 

With regard to the original published programme, I 
realized that to enter an area which had hitherto proved 
impenetrable to every ship which had made the attempt, 
would with the Quest be a hazardous undertaking even 
under the most favourable circumstances. Any ship 
entering heavy pack ice runs a risk of being beset and 
frozen in, and when that has occurred her fate lies abso- 
lutely with the gods. Should the ship be crushed, the 
chances of escape from the area in which we should be 
working could only be regarded as remote, for even if we 
succeeded in escaping from the pack with our boats, the 
nearest point we could make for would be Cape Town, a 
distance of over two thousand miles, through stormy seas, 
dependent for water supply upon what we could collect 
in the way of rain. 

Any fool can push a ship into the ice and lose her — 
my job was to bring her back again. 

74 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

On careful weighing of the two alternatives the 
Graham Land proposition appealed to me more 
strongly, for it offered the prospect of good work; and 
in case of accident we should be within measurable reach 
of whalers, which in their search for whales penetrate 
deeply amongst the islands of the Palmer Archipelago. 

Though I was faced with an innumerable number of 
smaller considerations, the above represents roughly the 
situation at the time. 

Therefore with these points of view in mind before 
coming to any decision at all, I gave instructions to Kerr 
to examine thoroughly and overhaul the engines and 
boilers and report to me his considered opinion. This 
he did. The work done at Rio had been good and 
sound, and he considered the condition of the engines 
to be fit for proceeding. The boiler presented a difficult 
problem. On looking up the record of the Quest (or the 
Foca I as she was previously named) in the Norwegian 
Veritas, I discovered that though the ship was compara- 
tively new, the boiler had been built in 1890, and was 
thus thirty-one years old. 

Kerr made an examination from inside, and I had 
also the second opinion, by courtesy of Captain Jacobsen, 
of the chief engineer of the Professor Gruvel. 

The report showed that the condition was not repar- 
able, but at the same time was not likely to develop 
further and become serious. 

I threw upon Kerr the onus of deciding as to whether 
the engines and boiler were fit to continue with into the 
ice or not. With true native caution (he comes of Aber- 
deen stock) he replied that there was always a risk of 
breakdown, but not an unreasonable one ; he was willing 
to take it himself. 

Preparations in South Georgia 75 

So far as that was concerned I decided to go 

My next step was to see about the special winter 
equipment which Sir Ernest had hoped would be 
available here. 

I learned to my dismay from Mr. Jacobsen that 
Filchner's store had been opened up and the contents 
scattered. There were no dogs on the island. They 
had proved so voracious and such a nuisance to the 
station that they had been shot. Food could be ob- 
tained, and a certain amount of clothing from the slop 
chests' of the different stations, but this was considered 
of doubtful quality and not recommended for our pur- 
pose. I thought bitterly of the good stuff lying in a 
Cape Town warehouse. 

These considerations caused me reluctantly to rule 
out the Graham Land proposition. 

There remained now only to carry on as the Boss 
had intended or to go back. As a matter of fact, 
I hardly gave the latter a thought. To go back was 
intolerable and quite incompatible with British prestige. 
To carry out against all difficulties the work the Boss 
had set out to do appealed to me strongly. I made my 
decision, and let it be known to all hands, giving each 
one a chance to back out before it was too late. I 
believe there was not one who ever so much as thought 
of it, and none seemed to doubt but that we would go on. 
Such is the onus of leadership. Where you must con- 
cern yourself for the safety and welfare of those under 
your charge, they place in you their trust and do not 
worry at all. This is as it should be. 

I told Macklin, who was in charge of stores and 

* Clothing stores. 

76 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

equipment, to take a complete and accurate tally of 
everything we had aboard and then work out and make 
a list of requirements for the period to be spent in 
the ice. 

When this was done I sent him to visit the different 
stations and pick out from their slop chests anything 
that he might consider necessary in the way of clothing. 

Nothing was available at Gritviken, and so on 
January i6th we left for Leith Harbour, where we 
received the greatest kindness from Mr. Hansen, the 
manager of the whaling station. His keen interest and 
practical assistance meant a great deal to me at this 
critical time, and his genial qualities and kindly hospi- 
tality did much to dissipate the gloom which had fallen 
upon us. We obtained from him all the food stores we 
required and a general outfit of clothing and blankets, 
which, though by no means the equivalent of our own 
specially prepared stuff, was at least adequate to meet 
the demands of a single season. Amongst other things, 
each man was provided with a fur-lined leather cap, an 
abundance of socks and mitts, a pair of stout ankle 
boots, a pair of sea boots, a quantity of warm under- 
clothing, heavy pea-jacket, light windproof jacket, a 
stout pair of trousers, three good blankets and a warm 

It was necessary before starting to fill the bunkers 
with coal. Mr. Hansen had none to spare, but he took 
me round in a whaler to Husvik Harbour, where Mr. 
Andersen, the manager, promised to supply me with 
what we required. 

On January 14th I told Worsley to take the Quest 
to Husvik, where she was placed alongside the Orwell, 
the station oil carrier, from which we took aboard 105 

Preparations in South Georgia ^^ 

tons of best Welsh coal. In the meantime work had 
been going on busily on board, for Worsley and Jeffrey 
had much to do in their preparations for the ice. The 
forward water tank had been made sound and a hand 
pump fitted. Dell, McLeod and Marr tested all run- 
ning gear and rigging, which was set up in good order 
and any defective material replaced. Marr, since leav- 
ing Rio, had been replaced in the galley by Naisbitt, 
and now assisted Dell about the deck, a job very much 
more to his taste. He was also appointed " Lampy," 
having charge of all the non-electrical lighting of the 

Wilkins and Douglas, who had preceded us here 
from Rio de Janeiro in order to have more time for their 
scientific work, rejoined us, and were much shocked at 
the news we had to give them. 

We were now ready for sea, but returned first to 
Leith Harbour to pick up two ice anchors and a number 
of hand harpoons, ice picks and ice axes which Mr. 
Hansen had turned out for us in his workshop. 

We received from the Norwegian people in South 
Georgia during the whole of our stay nothing but the 
greatest kindness and sympathy and the most valuable 
practical assistance in our somewhat extensive prepara- 
tions. This is the more remarkable in that they are not 
of our nationality and Norway has ever been our keenest 
rival in Polar exploration. They were, however, as Sir 
Ernest would have said, " of the Brotherhood of the 
Sea," and that explains much. 

We were about to embark upon what would most 
certainly prove to be the most arduous part of our pro- 
gramme, which I had briefly outlined in a last letter to 
Mr. Rowett as follows : 

78 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

As I am at present out of communication with you, 
and in view of the lateness of the season, which 
necessitates that any attempt to enter the ice must be 
carried out without delay, I have decided to carry on 
the work of the expedition, adhering as nearly as 
circumstances permit to the plans as most recently 
expressed by Sir Ernest Shackleton. 

Consequently ... I intend pushing to the east- 
ward to a position dependent upon the date as mark- 
ing the advancement of the season, striking south 
through the pack ice, and making an attempt to reach 
the Great Ice Barrier. If I am successful in this, I 
will turn westwards and map out, as far as possible, 
the coastline in the direction of Coats Land, but 
taking steps to escape before the ship gets frozen in. 

There are, however, certain factors which may 
compel me to use my discretion in altering the pro- 
gramme, as follows : 

I. In addition to the defects of the ship already 
notified to you by Sir Ernest Shackleton, compelling 
alterations at Lisbon, St. Vincent and Rio de Janeiro, 
during this last stage of the voyage two other grave 
defects were discovered : a crack and a leak in the 
boiler furnace, and a leak in the forward water 
tank which almost emptied it. On arrival here 
the boiler was examined by Mr. Kerr, the chief 
engineer of the Quest, and by engineers from the 
whaling station. After careful consideration they 
have decided that it is possible to go forward, and Mr. 
Kerr states that it is quite reasonable to enter the ice 
under the conditions. 

Whilst ashore, I took the opportunity of looking 
up the record in the Norwegian Record of Ships, and 

Preparations in South Georgia 79 

found that the boiler was built in 1890, and is con- 
sequently 31 years old, a fact of which I feel quite 
sure Sir Ernest was ignorant. . . . From the time the 
expedition started various defects of the engines have 
appeared, and any further developments in this 
respect may entail change of plan. 

2. The capability of the Quest to deal with pack 
ice. It has been shown during the voyage that she is 
of lower engine power than was originally expected, 
and much will depend upon what speed and driving 
power she can maintain in the ice. 

3. The lateness of the season limits the amount of 
time in which it is possible to operate in the ice pack. 

4. Progress will depend upon conditions which 
cannot altogether be foreseen, viz. weather conditions, 
and the depth and density of the pack ice when we 
encounter it, varying greatly as it does from year to 
year. ... I expect to leave the ice towards the end 
of March, and will probably return to this island 
(South Georgia) or the Falkand Islands for coal and 
water. . . . 

This briefly indicates my plan and the outlook at 
the time we left South Georgia. In working to the 
eastward I intended to make for the charted position of 
*' Pagoda Rock," and verify or wash out its existence; 
also, if possible, I wished to visit Bouvet Island. 

It will be seen that throughout this projected route 
we should have the winds to the best advantage, for 
while working east we should be in the westerly belt, 
which extends approximately from lat. 35° S. to lat. 
60° S., whilst above these latitudes, on our return, we 
should enter the belt of prevailing easterly winds. 



WE left Leith Harbour on January 17th, and pro- 
ceeded along the coast to Cooper Bay. Douglas 
and Carr had gone there some days before to carry on 
their geological examination of the island. 

On arrival we found that they had set up a tent on 
the beach and had built outside it a fireplace of stones. 
For fuel they used driftwood, which lined the beach in 
large quantities. Douglas came to meet us in the kayak, 
a small skin-boat which had been presented to us by 
Mr. Jacobsen. I lowered the surf-boat and went ashore. 
Both Carr and he looked well, being very sunburnt and 
fatter than when they left us. A meal was in process 
of preparation in the fireplace, and when I saw the quan- 
tity of food they were about to dispose of I felt satisfied 
as to their health and the state of their appetites. 

I wanted a supply of fresh meat to take with us on 
the ship, for although we had no refrigerator on board, 
there was no fear of the meat going bad in the low 
temperatures of these regions. I sent Macklin and Marr 
to catch and kill a dozen penguins, and went myself, 
with Mcllroy, to shoot some skua gulls. I intended 
taking a seal also, but found that Douglas, with consider- 
able forethought, had already killed and cut one up. 

The day was bright, with warm sunshine, turning 
Cooper Bay, which I had previously visited under less 
favourable circumstances, into a beautiful spot. Sea- 





■ • 

sk.,>h .-...rt * 




"QUEST* «,>.s.l9il 

ScaU of Yards 

■"MP --:2> 



Photo: Wilkins 






O J 


Into the South 8i 

birds of all sorts covered the rocks and flew overhead, 
filling the air with raucous cries, which sounded, how- 
ever, not unpleasant, fitting the wild environment. Seals 
and sea-elephants were ashore in hundreds, lying lazily 
on the shingle of the beach or in the hollows of the 
tussock grass behind. Ringed and Gentoo penguins 
strutted solemnly about like leisurely old gentlemen 
taking the sea air. On the hills behind were large 
rookeries where these quaint birds were gathered 
together in thousands. 

I had no difficulty in obtaining the necessary number 
of skua gulls, and I saw that Macklin and Marr had 
made a little heap of penguins close to the boat, Macklin 
rejecting, with the discriminating care of one whose 
staple diet they have formed for months, the old tough 
birds and picking out the young and tender. Marr was 
delighted with his new experiences, being particularly 
fascinated with these almost human looking little 

So pleasant was the day that I was loth to tear 
myself away. 

We returned to the ship, where we prepared the birds 
for the larder, and hung them, together with the meat, 
from the mizen boom, the poop at the finish resembling 
a butcher's shop. 

Green, who had been before into the Antarctic and 
had wintered with me on Elephant Island, came out of 
his galley to regard with a professional eye this new 
addition to his larder. I asked him if he had forgotten 
how to cook seal and penguin meat, to which he replied, 
" Not likely ! If I was to live to be a hundred, I would 
not forget that." 

We weighed anchor and proceeded to Larsen Har- 

82 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

hour, which is approached through Drygalski Fiord, a 
long, narrow channel situated at the extreme south- 
eastern end of South Georgia. The entrance, which is 
very picturesque, lies between steep and high mountains. 
As one nears the end it appears as if one is about to 
charge a steep wall of snow-covered rock, but suddenly 
the little opening of Larsen Harbour comes into view, 
and one enters a wonderful little basin shut in on all 
sides by steeply rising mountains and offering a secure 
anchorage for small vessels. Across the entrance lies 
a ledge of rocks from which grows a belt of kelp, where 
the soundings gave a depth of 38 fathoms. 

Douglas went ashore in his kayak to make a 
geological examination of the place and bring away 
some specimens of rock. 

At daybreak on January i8th we made our final 
departure from South Georgia, setting course to pass 
close to Clerk Rocks. Douglas and Carr had reported 
that whilst ascending the slopes behind Cooper Bay they 
had seen what appeared to be a volcano in eruption. 
They had taken a rough bearing of its direction, and 
from their description generally we concluded that the 
site of the phenomenon could only have been Clerk 
Rocks. I was anxious, therefore, to visit them ; but the 
day unfortunately turned out to be thick and misty, and 
we were unable to get a good view of them. As every 
day was now a matter of importance to us in our attempt 
to push South, I did not delay in the hope that we might 
effect a landing. From observations made by Worsley 
and Jeffrey, their position as charted seems to be in- 
correct, but as the thick weather prevented accurate 
sight, their exact position cannot be definitely given. 

We were now about to undertake the most difficult 

fhoto: Reg. Haines 


Photo: Dr. Macklin 


I' koto: n ilk ins 


Into the South 83 

part of our enterprise, the plans of which I have indi- 
cated in the preceding chapter. 

I divided up the hands into three watches : In 
my own — Mcllroy, Macklin and Carr; in Worsley's — 
Wilkins, Douglas and Watts; in Jeffrey's — Dell, 
McLeod and Marr. The Boy Scout had become a fine, 
handy seaman, and developed an all-round usefulness 
which made him a valuable member of the expedition. 
The engineers, Kerr and Smith, kept watch and watch 
about in spells of six hours. I had added, in the person 
of Ross, to their staff in South Georgia, where a number 
of Shetlanders are employed at the flensing. Young 
and he acted as firemen, and Argles as trimmer. Green 
and Naisbitt, who formed the galley staff, were, of 
course, exempt from watch keeping. 

At first we had misty weather, and soon encountered 
a heavy swell in which the Quest rolled heavily. We 
met numerous icebergs travelling in a north-easterly 
direction — beautiful works of Nature passing slowly to 
their doom. 

Hundreds of sea-birds tailed in our wake, including 
numbers of every species known to this part of the 
world : albatross, cape pigeons, whale birds and every 
kind of petrel, from the giant " Stinker " to the dainty, 
ubiquitous Mother Carey's Chickens. 

Thursday, January 19th, broke bright and clear. 
We were surrounded on all sides by bergs, those in sight 
numbering more than a hundred. Many of them were 
flat topped, evidently pieces which had recently calved 
from the Great Ice Barrier and floated out to sea. Others 
were more irregular in shape, with pinnacles, buttresses, 
and caves and tunnels through which the water rushed 
with a roar. The imaginative could see in them a 

84 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

resemblance to all sorts of things; churches with spires, 
castles with heavy ramparts, steamships, human profiles, 
and the figures of every conceiyable kind of beast. 
Some were stained with red-coloured mineral deposits, 
blue bottom-mud and yellow and brown diatomaceous 
material. A few sloped towards the sea at such an angle 
as to enable penguins, all of them of the ringed variety, 
to clamber up. Some of the groups of penguins thus 
formed numbered as many as two or three hundred. 

There was a high following sea, and the deeply 
laden Quest wallowed in it heavily, dipping both gun- 
wales and filling the waist with water, which rushed to 
and fro with every roll. Smith was thrown off his feet 
and swept violently across the deck, fetching up with 
considerable force against the lee rail. He was much 
bruised and shaken. 

During the day a number of soundings were taken 
with the Kelvin apparatus, but no bottom was found 
with 300 fathoms of wire. 

In the evening Worsley altered course to look at 
what appeared to be a small half-submerged rock, but on 
approach it proved to be a heavily stained piece of ice. 

January 20th was another fine day. I saw Marr come 
on deck wearing a fur cap, heavy sea-boots, and a belt 
from which hung a ferocious-looking sheath knife. The 
scrubby promise of a thick beard adorned his chin, and 
I had the greatest difficulty in associating the kilted boy 
who joined us in London with this tough-looking sailor 
man. If Hussey had been there he would have sung, 
" If only my mother could see me now ! " Indeed, I 
would have liked to have had for a short while the use 
of a magic carpet and been able to transfer him exactly 
as he stood to the bosom of his family. 

Into the South 85 

Jeffrey, who had been confined to his cabin since 
leaving Rio de Janeiro, returned to duty on this day. 

We continued to pass through a sea filled with ice- 
bergs, which in the sunshine stood out white and glisten- 
ing against the blue-black of the sea. Worsley saw what 
looked like a new island with high summit, but even as 
he pointed it out a breeze flattened off its top, proving it 
to be only a cloud. These little rebuffs on the part 
of Nature have no influence upon Worsley, whose 
enthusiasm is unconquerable. 

In the afternoon we sighted a number of icebergs in 
line, and a few minutes later Zavodovski Island showed 
up. The bergs were evidently aground, most of them 
having a distinct tide-mark and showing considerable 
wear along the water-line. As we drew nearer we saw 
that all those which were accessible were thickly covered 
with ringed penguins, which showed the most marked 
astonishment at our approach. There were many also 
in the sea, and they came swimming towards us, uttering 
their familiar " CI - a-a - k ! " Some of the bergs were 
so steep that we wondered how the penguins ever 
managed to get a footing on them. We passed one with 
a side which sloped gradually to an edge some twenty 
or thirty feet above water, against which the sea broke 
heavily. A number of penguins were attempting a land- 
ing, and we watched their efforts with interest. They 
took advantage of the swell to leap out whilst the sea 
was at its highest, often to fail and fall back with a 
splash into the wash below; but they sometimes 
succeeded in getting a footing in a crack in the ice. 
They showed the greatest agility and skill in clambering 
from one little foothold to another, and their attitude of 
triumph when at last they gained the gentler slope and 

86 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

waddled off to join their companions in the group was 
most amusing. These little creatures are so absurdly 
human in every one of their aspects that one could watch 
them for hours without tiring. Those of the party who 
had not been previously in Antarctic regions were greatly 
fascinated by them and laughed outright at their quaint 

The island takes its name from Lieut. Zavodovski, 
chief officer of the Vostok, of Bellingshausen's Expe- 
dition, who landed in 1820. It is barren and snow 
covered, except on the western side, which presents an 
unattractive bare surface of rock. Bellingshausen 
described this bare surface as being warm from volcanic 
action, and says that the penguins found it an attractive 
nesting-place. On that occasion the island presented 
the appearance of an active volcano, with thick clouds 
of steam belching from the summit. Owing to the low- 
lying mist we could not see the top of the island, and 
so were unable to gauge accurately the height, but from 
general contour it seemed to be not more than 3,500 

The coastline presents a rugged face of rock broken 
here and there by glaciers which descend from the slopes 
behind to finish abruptly above narrow beaches of black 
sand. A red line of volcanic staining surrounds the 
island. Generally speaking it is inaccessible, and there 
are no good bays or anchorages for a ship. There are 
places where a landing could be effected by boat, but at 
no time would it be easy, for the rock faces rise sheer 
from the sea and the beaches are shut off from the island 
by the glaciers behind and laterally by steep cliffs. 
Nevertheless, penguins are able to get ashore. On the 
beaches were a number of the large and beautifully 

Into the South 87 

marked king penguins, whilst covering the slopes behind 
were whole battalions of the ringed variety, forming 
very large rookeries. I have seen larger rookeries than 
these in one place only — Macquarie Island, which I 
visited during the Mawson Expedition. There one can 
look over square miles and never see a piece of ground 
for the number of penguins of all varieties which collect 

On the southern side of Zavodovski Island are a 
number of caves, from the mouths of which sulphurous 
fumes were issuing in a thin reddish cloud. We could 
feel their effects in a smarting sensation of the eyes, 
nose and throat. It was noticed that the penguins did 
not collect round the caves, but gave them a pretty 
wide berth. Larsen, who explored this group in the 
Undine in 1908, was overcome by these fumes whilst 
attempting to land on this island, and became seriously 

We made a running survey of the island and ob- 
tained a number of soundings. Before leaving I took 
the ship close to a berg which was thickly covered with 
ringed penguins to enable Wilkins to get some cinema- 
tograph pictures. To stimulate them into movement I 
told Jeffrey to fire two or three detonators. The loud 
reports caused the utmost consternation amongst them, 
and, stretching their flippers, they rushed en masse for 
the lower edge of the berg. Those in front were loth 
to take to the water, which is not surprising, seeing the 
difficulty they have in climbing back* again, but those 
behind pressed them so hard that they were forced over 
into the sea, and, as Kerr facetiously remarked, " It was 
just as well that they could swim." Their attitude of 
surprise and indignation was very amusing. 

88 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

We continued (Saturday, January 21st) to pass in- 
numerable bergs. The sea was literally filled with them. 
It is fortunate that in these latitudes there is compara- 
tively little darkness at this time of the year, for at night 
these bergs form the most unpleasant of companions and 
necessitate a continuous and unremitting look-out. The 
long swell rushes against them with a heavy surge, and 
a collision with any one of them would prove a nasty 
accident from which we would not be likely to escape 
scot free, whilst the dislodgment of a heavy portion on 
to our decks could have nothing but the most disastrous 

The Quest rolled like a log and the seas in the waist 
rushed like a swollen flood from side to side, so that one 
rarely passed about the ship without a wetting. The 
water foamed over the tops of our sea boots and filled 
them up. This was particularly annoying when going 
to take over the watch, for one had then to endure the 
discomfort of four hours on the bridge with wet feet, 
which in this temperature is extremely unpleasant. 

Before leaving England Sir Ernest Shackleton had 
designed a weather-proof bridge, completely enclosed, 
but with windows which could be opened up on all sides. 
Owing to the strikes which occurred before our start, 
skilled labour was not available, and the work done in 
the building of it was so bad, and the windows and doors 
were so ill-fitting, that it was quite impossible to exclude 
draughts. Except that it was to some extent rain- and 
snow-proof, we would have been much better off with an 
open bridge protected with a canvas dodger. There was 
always a strong draught along the floor, which made it 
very hard to keep the feet warm, no matter how well 
clothed and shod we might be. When the footgear 

Into the South 89 

became wetted the difficulty was increased, and in the 
long night watches we often endured agonies from this 

Macklin reported to me on the 21st that there were 
fifteen inches of water in the hold. The ship had always 
leaked, but hitherto the engine-room pumps had been 
sufficient to keep down the water. I instituted a daily 
pumping, which, as the hand pump was situated in the 
waist amidst a rush of water, was no pleasant task for 
those engaged in it. 

I began to feel my responsibilities now, for each day 
made it more abundantly clear to me that this trip was 
to be anything but a picnic and demonstrated the fact 
that the Quest was by no means an ideal ship for the 
work. Often I was made to doubt the wisdom of the 
undertaking, but, having put my hand to the plough, 
there was to be no turning back. 

This being Saturday night, we drank the time- 
honoured toast of " Sweethearts and Wives," to which 
some wag always added, " May they never meet ! '' On 
such occasions as these I issued to each man who wanted 
it a tot of whisky or rum. Rum was generally selected, 
as being the stronger drink. 

On Monday, January 23rd, we passed close to two 
large and beautiful bergs, full of cracks and chasms, 
with a number of caves of the deepest blue colour. This 
appearance of blue in cavities surrounded by colourless 
ice is a phenomenon for which physicists have not yet 
offered a satisfactory explanation. 

There is something about these huge bergs, bucking 
and swaying in the long heavy swell, which always 
attracts. One wonders at their age and where they have 
come from. It is a pity that there is no way of marking 

go Shackleton's Last Voyage 

them. Worsley, ever inventive, and never at a loss for 
a suggestion, proposes firing into them bombs filled with 
permanganate of potash, or, better still, to have rifles 
firing small projectiles, by which one could mark the 
date. " Why not? " says he. 

There is much difference of opinion regarding the 
length of life of these bergs, some saying two or three 
years, whilst others suggest that they last forty or more. 
Much undoubtedly depends upon their movements. A 
grounded berg is likely to exist for a long time, and I 
have seen many, marked by the rise and fall of tide and 
washed by the action of the sea, which had obviously 
endured for many years. Those which do not go 
aground drift about for varying periods till carried 
eventually to the north; they meet their fate amongst 
warm currents, which leave not a vestige of their 
original selves. A berg floats with about seven-eighths 
of its bulk below water, and is consequently more 
susceptible to deep than to surface currents. I have 
often seen them moving through pack at a rate of two 
or three miles an hour, brushing aside the lighter ice in 
their undeviating progress. In open water, too, I have 
seen them moving up against strong winds at a similar 

During our boat journey from the breaking-up 
pack on the Endurance expedition we nearly came to 
grief from this cause, a large berg of several hundred 
yards in length almost jamming us against a line of floe 
ice, and requiring all our efforts to pull free. 

Worsley met with a slight accident on the 23rd. 
While passing round the front of the deck-house he was 
struck by the forestay-sail sheet block, and was hurled 
across the deck. He picked himself up, with blood run- 

Into the South 91 

ning freely down his face, but the intensity of his impre- 
cations relieved me from fear of a bad injury, and, 
indeed, on examination it proved to be slight. He felt 
a little hurt when someone asked him if he could not 
do it again because there were several who had missed 
the incident. I omit his reply. 

Our daily mileage had proved disappointing up to 
this point, and it became clear to me that we could not 
hope to reach Bouvet Island and still be in time to enter 
the ice this year. The coal consumption also proved 
higher than I had anticipated. I decided, therefore, to 
make a more southerly course to meet and enter the ice 
in a position somewhere about 20° E. Long. On my 
westward run I intended to cross the mouth of the Wed- 
dell Sea, and attempt to examine and sound the charted 
position of " Ross's Appearance of Land," probably 
call at Elephant Island to obtain sand for ballast and 
blubber for fuel, and proceed to Deception Island for 
coal for the return to South Georgia. 

After a long spell of bad weather, on January 25th 
we at last experienced a change for the better, the day 
breaking bright and clear, the water a deep blue and the 
icebergs a dazzling white. The sea was comparatively 
smooth, and the Quest behaved moderately well. 

I seized the chance to get on with an amount of 
work which had been difficult during the bad weather. 
Worsley, Dell and Carr overhauled the Lucas sounding 
machine and fixed a roll of wire all ready for a running 
out. When this was done, I set Carr to blocking some 
of the scupper holes, in the hope of keeping a drier deck. 
Macklin, assisted by Marr and Green, spent a busy 
morning in squaring up the hold, and there was work 
for everyone in one way or another. Mcllroy and I 

92 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

baled out our cabins and put the wet gear out to 

The ship was found to be taking more water, Macklin 
reporting that it had reached the level of the kelson, and 
I had to institute longer spells at the pumps, each taking 
from one and a half to two hours to pump her dry. 

I got Mcllroy to cut my hair, after which I acted as 
barber for him, and for Kerr and Worsley also. They 
were no half cuts, but good convict crops ! Wilkins, 
with a view to stimulating the laggard hairs on his 
crown to more active growth, shaved the top of his head, 
and looked like a monk. He was growing a beard, as 
were a number of the men. McLeod's was the most 
flourishing; Dell and Macklin each showed a respect- 
able growth, and Kerr, Smith, Young, Argles and Watts 
gave a promise of better things. Marr, not to be out- 
done, was also making the attempt, but so far could 
show only a stubble, which gave him rather a ferocious 

In the afternoon Worsley took a sounding, with the 
unsought assistance of all the men on board, who 
crowded round with a great willingness to help, but 
who, like the cooks at the broth, only impeded things. 
Four miles of wire were reeled out without finding 
bottom, but, this being the first time we had used the 
Lucas machine on this trip, it was probably incorrect. 
When it came to winding up, the machine ran well, but 
when only about half the reel had been taken in the 
wire broke, and we lost the sinkers and the snapper 
(which is used to bring up specimens from the sea 

^ On leaving South Georgia, I had moved into Sir Ernest's cabin, and 

Mcllroy took my old one. Both cabins opened on to the waist of the ship, and 

were consequently frequently flooded with the heavy seas which rushed to and 
fro there. 

Into the South 93 

bottom). From this time forward Dell took charge of 
the sounding machine, and under his management it ran 
without a hitch. It was often a cold and tedious job, but 
he took the greatest interest in the work, and enabled 
Worsley to get some excellent results. 

Whilst the sounding was in process a mass of pul- 
taceous material floated past the ship, some of which we 
collected. Macklin examined a small portion of it under 
a microscope, and reported that it was composed of 
feathers in a state of decomposition. Its occurrence was 
hard to explain, but Wilkins thought it may have come 
from one of the carnivorous mammals of these seas : a 
sea leopard or a killer, which had swallowed a number 
of penguins or other birds, and afterwards vomited the 
indigestible portions of them, just as our sledge dogs 
used to vomit bones which they had eaten. 

Naisbitt asked me if he might start a ship's magazine, 
to which I assented. 

I saw an Antarctic petrel, the first I had seen this 
trip. The presence of these birds usually indicates 
proximity of ice. 

The fine weather did not last long, for the next day 
the wind and seas increased, and the Quest took full 
advantage of the excuse to behave as badly as ever. 
We encountered fewer bergs, but were never out of 
sight of them altogether. One which lay two or three 
miles to starboard had a very peculiar appearance, 
closely resembling a sailing ship under canvas. Worsley 
examined it long and attentively through binoculars, and 
exclaimed, " A sailing vessel ! " I cast some doubt on 
the probability, but after a second look he cried 
excitedly, " It is a sailing vessel; I can see her top- 
sail yard ! Let us go and talk to her ! " A gleam of 

94 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

sunshine lighting upon the " topsail yard " dispelled the 
illusion. I wonder what ship he expected to see down 
there ! 

An extract from Marr's diary on this date gives an 
interesting sidelight : 

A fairly strong sea was running when we came on 
deck for " the middle," but this did not deter us from 
our usual occupation in the night watches, i.e. the 
consumption of food and drink. Indeed, it must 
appear that our watch is very hungry, but it is not so. 
This is merely our very effective method of passing 
the four long hours on the bridge. 

It was customary for the engine-room staff to make 
a hot drink once a watch. The galley fire was always 
allowed to go out at night because of the necessity for 
economy in coal consumption, and the stokers used to 
boil the water in a tin on the furnace fires. The result 
was that there was often some difficulty in diagnosing 
the nature of the concoction, but under circumstances 
like this one could not be over particular. We used to 
turn to each other, saying : " Well, at any rate it is hot 
and wet." 

We had two casualties on January 30th. Douglas, 
whilst skipping to keep himself warm, sprained his 
ankle, and had to take to his bunk. Worsley also came 
to grief in a much more serious way. Shortly after 
leaving South Georgia I had instructed Macklin to pro- 
vision each of our three boats for thirty days. As the 
surf-boat was likely to be in frequent use, I had the 
provisions moved from her and divided equally amongst 
the port and starboard life-boats, the total in each weigh- 
ing not less than a quarter of a ton. I decided to swing 




rhotos: iytlKins 

Into the South 95 

the port life-boat outboard on her davits, both in order 
to have her the more ready to lower away and to give 
us a little more sorely needed space on the bridge deck. 
The sea was smooth, but there was a long swell running 
which caused the Quest to give an occasional heavy roll. 
We were in the midst of proceedings, and I had got 
into the boat the better to direct operations, when sud- 
denly a guy fixing the forward davit carried away; the 
heavily laden boat took charge, swinging inboard and 
out and in a fore and aft direction with the swing of the 
unsecured davits. It was all I could do to hold on, 
for I had been steadying myself with the after davit 
head, which now swung in a semicircle. Many times I 
felt as if I must be flung headlong into the sea. All 
hands gathered round to regain control, but with the 
strain the after davit guy also parted. The boat swung 
aft, sweeping Wilkins and Macklin off the bridge deck 
on to the poop, where they met with no damage, and, 
surging forward again, caught Worsley and drove him 
with tremendous force against the after wall of the 
bridge house. The impact was heavy. I heard a cry 
and a crash of splintering wood as the wall gave way. 
I felt sure Worsley was killed. Mcllroy immediately 
went to his assistance, whilst the rest of us, after an 
effort, secured the boat and lowered her on to the skids 

Worsley appeared at first to be terribly damaged. 
His face turned a deathly grey and was covered with 
perspiration, and he could scarcely breathe. We carried 
him to his cabin, where the surgeons made a careful 
examination. He had sustained severe damage to his 
chest and broken a number of ribs. His whole body 
was covered with bruises and abrasions, and he was 

96 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

suffering severely from shock. The doctors reported 
his condition as serious, but thought that the outlook 
was favourable unless signs of internal haemorrhage 
appeared. It was a great relief to feel that I had with 
me as surgeons two reliable and experienced men. 
Worsley had undoubtedly to thank the workmen who 
had this particular job in hand for his life, for had the 
bridge house been of more solid workmanship and shown 
greater resistance to the impact, he must infallibly have 
been crushed to death. 

On this same day we reached the charted position of 
Pagoda Rock. It was first reported by Lieut. T. E. L. 
Moore, in the Pagoda, in 1845, in the following words : 

In the afternoon of the same day (Thursday), 
January 30th, 1845, we fell in with a most singular 
rock, or rock on an iceberg. It appeared to be a mass 
of rock about 1,600 tons, and the top was covered with 
ice, and did not appear to have any visible motion, 
with a heavy sea beating over it. It had a tide mark 
round it. We tried for soundings with 200 fathoms, 
and the first time we fancied we had struck the 
ground, but before we could try again we had drifted 
some distance off. We could not send a boat or beat 
the ship up against the breeze that was then blowing. 

In our position, lat. 60° 11' S. and 4^ 47' E. long., 
however, there was no sign of it, though we made a 
traversing cruise, and a sounding which showed a depth, 
of 2,980 fathoms gave no indication of shoaling in the 

It is rather remarkable, however, that towards even- 
ing we sow a very curious-looking berg, very dark green 
in colour and heavily stained with some earthy material. 


Photos : Dr. Macklin 

Into the South 97 

We altered course to pass close to it, and examined it 
carefully. It was an old, weather-beaten berg which 
had evidently capsized. Our meeting with it in this 
particular spot was a curious coincidence. 

On the first day of February the maiden number of 
Expedition Topics appeared under the editorship of 
Naisbitt. It was got up simply, consisting of a number 
of sheets of typewritten matter, chiefly on the humorous 
side, and containing a sly hit at most of the company. 
There were also some clever drawings. Like every- 
thing else that created an interest it was of value just 
then when the daily life in those cold grey stormy seas 
was necessarily very monotonous. 

On February 2nd we had a strong gale from the 
south-east, during which I was compelled to take in sail 
and heave to — very disappointing, as we needed every 
mile we could make to the eastward. The Quest be- 
haved in the liveliest possible manner, and everything 
that was not tightly lashed took charge. A bookcase in 
my cabin had battens three inches wide placed along 
the shelves, but they proved useless to keep in place 
the books, which hurled themselves to the floor, where 
they were much damaged by the seas which found their 
way in and swished up and down with every roll. 

On deck everything had been lashed up and tightly 
secured, but in the galley pots and pans took charge and 
defied all Green's efforts to make them remain on the 
stove. All kinds of utensils escaped into " Gubbins 
Alley," where they were carried up and down by the 
wash of water, whilst Green splashed knee deep in pur- 
suit. As he recovered one lot so another leapt away, 
regardless of his imprecations, till, some helpers coming 
along, order was once more restored. 

98 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

Naisbitt, whose work compelled him to pass fre- 
quently between the wardroom and the galley, often with 
both hands full, had a very trying time. At meals we 
had the greatest difficulty in keeping things on the table, 
and we had to hold plates, cups, etc., in our hands, 
balancing them against the roll of the ship. We had to 
abandon all idea of comfort and wait patiently till the 
rage of the elements should abate. 

During this time of bad weather Worsley suffered 
very much, for, with the violent rolling, he could get 
no rest in his bunk. He improved, however ; the doctors 
pronounced him out of danger, and he spoke of soon 
getting up. 

Macklin reported another fifteen inches of water in 
the hold — it was obvious that it would be necessary to 
increase the daily spells of pumping. All hands took 
to this unpleasant and monotonous job very cheerfully, 
saying that it was good exercise ! Indeed, there is not 
much else that can be said for it. 

In lat. 65° 7' S. and 15° 21' E. long, we entered, on 
February 4th, what appeared to be the edge of very open 
pack, which lay in several strips and bands of light, 
loosely packed ice, with large open spaces of water 
between. I made my course due south and pushed 
into it. For some time I had doubts as to whether 
it was the real pack or streamers carried north by the 
late south-easterly gale. The sky to the south was very 
indefinite, and from the crow's nest the same conditions 
of loose ice and open water extended as far as the eye 
could reach. The two " signs " which one looks for in 
the sky are " ice-blink " and " water sky." A sky with 
ice-blink presents near the horizon a hard white appear- 
ance which indicates the proximity of close pack, ice 

Into the South 99 

barrier, or snow-covered land. A " water sky " is a 
dark patch in a lighter sky, which indicates open water 
below the horizon. In each case when these skies are 
well marked they are definitely of value, but it requires 
much experience to gauge accurately the meaning of 
some of the more indefinite appearances, and conclusions 
too hastily drawn often prove erroneous. 

Whilst we were at sea I had watched the petrels 
which followed in our wake attempting to come to rest 
on the water, but breaking seas always drove them up 
again. I was interested to note that as soon as we 
reached the pack they flew forward and came to rest 
on a piece of ice, where they preened their feathers and 
settled down on their breasts. 

The ice had a wonderfully settling effect upon the 
sea, deadening all but the heavier swells. The Quest 
became more comfortable than she had been for a long 
time, and at lunch we dispensed with the fiddles. This 
she would not tolerate, and a sudden roll swept every- 
thing to the floor. Later in the day the belts of ice 
became broader and the pools of water much smaller. 
There could be no doubt that this was the real pack ice 
and that the most strenuous part of our work was now 
to begin. Quoting from a diary : 

Now the little Quest can really try her mettle. 
What is in store for us.? Will the pack, as variable 
in its moods as the open sea, prove friendly or will it 
rise in its wrath to punish man's temerity in thus 
bringing to the attack so small a craft.? Before this 
effort the smallest ship to make a serious attempt to 
penetrate the heavy Antarctic pack was the Endure 
ance, and she lies crushed and broken many fathoms 

100 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

deep in the Weddell Sea. We are but half her size ! 
Shall we escape, or will the Quest go to join the ships 
in Davy Jones's Locker, and the queer deep-sea fish 
nose about amongst her broken spars? We are not 
in the least pessimistic, but the man who blinds himself 
to the possibility is a fool. 

My sense of responsibility was growing daily, for 
though I always welcomed the suggestions of my senior 
officers I realized that on me alone must devolve the 
final decision in every plan and in every movement. This 
was my fifth expedition — nearly half my life has been 
spent in Antarctic exploration — and every accumulated 
year of experience has taught me more and more how 
much in this work we are the playthings of chance. Ex- 
perience counts a great deal, of course, but no amount 
of experience, care or skill can be of much avail against 
prolonged and overwhelming pressure. Yet in those 
first days in the ice, as I stood on the bridge and 
looked down on the decks I saw amongst my men 
nothing but elation. Carr, Douglas and others who 
saw the ice for the first time were fascinated by it, and 
amongst the old hands there was obvious pleasure at 
again meeting the pack. Old McLeod, veteran of many 
expeditions, said to Mcllroy : '' Here we are home again ! 
Doesn't it do you good to get back ! " Even Query was 
affected with the general air of uplift, and with paws on 
gunwale gazed with twitching nostrils at this new pheno- 
menon. Nor could I long resist a similar feeling, for 
as I gazed south over the ice, with the cold, keen air 
in my nostrils, I, too, felt pleased and elated, glad of a 
tough problem to tackle and rejoicing in the long 




/ ■ ' 

/ »■ 



/ (■ 



1 ft 
























Into the South loi 

We soon began to meet old acquaintances in the 
form of crab-eater seals which, wakened from sleep on 
the floe, turned a curious eye in our direction and, 
scratching themselves the while with their queer hand- 
like flippers, pondered drowsily on the strange pheno- 
menon which had come amongst them. Most of them 
seemed satisfied with their scrutiny, treating us as of no 
particular importance, and rolled over to sleep again. With 
their light silvery coats these are the most elegant of the 
southern seals and also the most active. They are char- 
acteristic of the pack, being found in large numbers 
about its free edge, where they obtain their living from 
the small Crustacea of these regions, eufhausice and 
amphipods. These small creatures live on the diatoms 
of which the Antarctic seas are so rich, and which often 
become embedded in the floe ice, which is stained brown 
or greenish-brown by their presence. Eufhausice re- 
semble small shrimps, and the amphipods are very like 
the sandhoppers of home beaches, but redder in colour. 
Whalers speak of them collectively as whale food, for 
they form the staple diet not only of the crab-eaters but 
of most of the Antarctic whales. It is an extraordinary 
thing that so large an animal as the whale should depend 
for its existence upon so small a creature, especially 
when one considers the millions necessary to make one 
meal. The side of natural history which interests me 
most is the consideration of animal habits, mode of life 
and source of food. There is something intensely fas- 
cinating about this study, but I confess to a lack of 
enthusiasm when it comes to a question of minute differ- 
ences in structure and classification of species. 

The ordinary whale has a gullet so small that one 
can scarcely pass one's fist into it, and no whale could 

102 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

certainly ever have swallowed Jonah. The animal 
referred to in the Bible story is no doubt the Orca 
gladiator, which, though commonly known as the Killer 
whale, differs considerably in many features from the 
true whale. It is much better referred to by the name 
Killer only. It is smaller than the larger varieties of 
true whale, but it has immense jaws and a wide gullet, 
and lives not on whale food but on seals and penguins, 
and it is conceivable that it has on occasions accom- 
modated a man ; though whether it ever let one go again 
is a different matter. The killer is certainly an evil- 
looking monster. Before we had entered deeply into 
the pack we saw numbers of them gliding about us, 
driven smoothly forward by almost imperceptible move- 
ments of their powerful flukes, the downward strokes of 
which produce small whirlpools on the surface of the 
water. One could mark their progress by watching 
these whirlpools. Every now and then they rise to 
breathe, for they are not fish but mammals, and exhale 
a spout of fine vapour which in the distance looks like 
water. It is dangerous to cross leads of young ice whilst 
killers are about, for they are able by charging upwards 
from below to break through considerable thicknesses 
with their heads. The round holes produced in this way 
are quite common, and one frequently sees their evil 
heads and wicked little eyes appear suddenly above the 
surface, scattering fragments of ice in a wide circle. 
When sledging along newly frozen leads, it is customary 
to keep close in to solid ice, and when a crossing is 
necessary it is made as rapidly as possible. 

By February 5th there was a certain amount of day- 
light all night, and we were not held up on account of 
darkness. The ice had increased all the time in density 

Into the South 103 

and thickness, and at times it was all we could do to 
push ahead. Already I began to feel the need of greater 
engine power, though the small size of the ship made 
her very handy to manoeuvre, and we were able to dodge 
and squeeze past where a bigger ship would require to 
push and ram. For the man at the wheel the spell was no 
longer two hours of monotony, but a period of hard work 
for which he shed his bulky garments, finding all the 
warmth he required in the exercise entailed. It was 
only when we entered the leads that we could keep a 
steady course, and usually the commands, " Port ! 
Steady ! Starboard ! " etc., followed each other in 
rapid succession as we turned and twisted and wriggled 
our way ahead. 

Worsley appeared again to-day. This evergreen 
youth of fifty years certainly made a rapid recovery, for 
I did not think when I saw him after his accident that 
he would be up so soon. Although a very good patient, 
he chafed so much at his confinement to bed that Macklin 
thought it better to let him out of his bunk, taking, how- 
ever, the precaution to strap and bandage his injured 
parts in such a way that he could not do himself much 
harm, and was unable to make any attempt to climb aloft 
— which is the first thing he would have wished to do ! 
He was keenly anxious to take his watch, and I must 
confess I was looking forward to his return to duty, for 
Jeffrey and I had been doing " watch and watch " 
alternately, and I had to be frequently on deck during 
my watch below, which under the arduous circumstances 
was a heavy strain. 

I kept a keen look out for a convenient floe with seals 
on it, for I was anxious to obtain fresh meat. Our food 
stores included an ample and varied supply of all foods, 

104 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

with the exception of meat, lor which we were prepared 
" to live on the country." Seal meat is quite palatable 
when one is used to it, and has the advantage over tinned 
stuff of being fresh. It is also a valuable antiscorbutic, 
and I was relying on its regular consumption to prevent 
the onset of scurvy. 

Sighting a good solid floe with three seals on it, I put 
the ship alongside and shot them all with my heavy rifle. 
I went over on to the floe with Macklin to bleed them, 
which done, they were hoisted aboard, and Mcllroy, 
Dell and Macklin flensed and cut them up. The 
blubber went to the bunkers to eke out our supply of 
coal. Practically the whole of the meat of the seal can 
be used for eating; whilst the liver, kidneys and heart 
make very dainty fare. Fried seal's brain is a dish that 
can hardly be excelled anywhere in the world. The 
seal's brain is large and well developed, and when shoot- 
ing these animals I always make a point of aiming at the 
neck just behind the skull so as not to spoil the brain 
for cooking. There is quite an art in removing the brain, 
and the heads were usually handed over to Macklin 
and Mcllroy, who took them out complete and unbroken. 
Whilst the flensing was going forward Worsley seized 
the opportunity to take a sounding, finding it lat. 66° 
12' S. and 16° 21' E. long., 2,330 fathoms of water. 

On February 6th we continued pushing on through 
fairly heavy pack. Often the Quest was brought to a 
stop by heavy pieces of ice across her bows, which she 
was powerless to move or break up. When this occurred 
we backed down the lane formed in our wake, where her 
short length usually enabled her to turn, and getting 
her nose inserted between two floes, we pushed ahead 
with all the power the engines could give us till she 

Into the South 105 

finally worried through. So tar we had not been held 
up for any considerable time. 

Macklin reported another fifteen inches of water in 
the hold, requiring an extra spell at the pumps to clear. 
There can be no doubt that the continual bumping and 
jarring of the ship against the ice caused a starting of 
the timbers which had then no chance to settle and swell. 

Everybody was in wonderful health and spirits, and 
appetites were keen. For lunch on that day we had 
the seal brains taken the day before ; they were delicious. 
All hands took to the seal meat, with the exception of 
Jeffrey and Carr. Carr tasted it and said that it pro- 
duced a sickly feeling, but with the former it was a case 
of pure prejudice, for he would not even taste it, and pre- 
ferred to live on what else might be going. Stefansson, 
in his books, dilates upon the theory that men who m 
their normal lives have been used to all sorts and varieties 
of food take more readily to kinds which they are ex- 
periencing for the first time than those whose dietary 
has been more monotonous and composed of much the 
same thing day after day and week after week. That 
this is very true there can be no doubt, but it does not 
hold in the case of Jeffrey and Carr, for out of the whole 
party I doubt if there was anyone more used to the 
highly faked and varied dishes which the modern chef 
succeeds in producing. Hunger is a wonderful sauce 
and will break down most prejudices. Those of us who 
accompanied Sir Ernest Shackleton on his previous ex- 
pedition lived entirely on seal and penguin meat for 
eleven months, and except that we were thin at the time 
of rescue as a result of not having enough of it, we were 
otherwise healthy and fit and had no sign of scurvy. 

Stefansson, in speaking of scurvy, attributes his free- 

io6 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

dom from it to eating his meat raw or " rare done," and 
states definitely that this is the secret of preventing and 
curing scurvy, whatever the food may be. On the occa- 
sion to which I have referred we always cooked our meat, 
except when circumstances or the exigencies of the 
moment did not permit of it and when we were short 
of fuel. 

Nature has providentially arranged that most of the 
animals of south polar regions, for example the seals, 
provide in addition to meat the fuel necessary to cook it 
in the form of blubber. It is true that the use of heat in 
cooking meat does very slightly destroy the antiscorbutic 
principle, but when the consumption is sufficiently large 
this factor can be neglected. Much depends upon the 
method of cooking, for a more thorough investigation of 
the subject shows that the detrimental influence is not 
heat but oxidization. It is also stated that scurvy may 
be cured by eating meat which has gone bad. It is pos- 
sible that a few isolated cases may have recovered in spite 
of the additional intoxication, but this teaching must be 
regarded as a most dangerous one. The subject is one 
of the greatest importance to explorers, for scurvy has 
caused the failure of many well-found expeditions. I 
cannot enter more fully into it here. The investigation 
of scurvy and other food deficiency diseases is at present 
occupying the minds of the medical profession, much 
new knowledge is being brought to light, and it is prob- 
able that the next few years will show great advances. 
I am greatly opposed to the making of generalizations 
based upon one or two isolated observations by writers 
with little or no knowledge of the fundamental facts; 
they are of little value for guidance and are apt to 
prove misleading. 

Into the South 107 

Query was in great spirits at this time, never 
having been in better condition since we left England; 
his coat was thick and bushy, and his tail made a fine 
brush. He was really a most handsome dog. He be- 
came a thorough ship's dog, and climbed all over the 
place. Wilkins fixed a camera case to the front of the 
deck-house, and Query discovered uia it a way to 
the top. So delighted was he with his new discovery 
that he ran up and down just for the joy of doing it. 
All day long he pestered one to play with him, bringing 
in his mouth a stick or tin or a lump of coal, or even a 
potato looted from the galley, which he wished thrown 
for him to fetch. Of this game he never tired, and no 
matter where one threw the object, he searched until it 
was found, when he brought it back, calling one's atten- 
tion to the fact by a short bark or a dig in the calves with 
his nose. 

Another game which he was very fond of was to 
drop things from the deck-house on to the head of 
someone standing below, whose share in the game was 
to return the thing dropped so that he could do it again. 
He was greatly excited by a seal which followed the 
ship and whenever we were stopped by floes rose 
high out of the water alongside us as though trying to 
come aboard. Possibly it regarded us as a strangely 
elusive and inaccessible piece of land. Up to now we 
had not seen any penguins in the pack. 

On coming on deck at 4.0 a.m. on February 7th I 
discovered that during Jeffrey's watch the ship had 
entered a cul-de-sac and that further progress was im- 
possible. From the crow's nest I could see nothing but 
dense pack stretching away to the southward as far as 
the eye could reach, with no sign of a water sky beyond 

io8 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

it. To the east and west the same conditions prevailed, 
and there was no hope of working the ship in any 
direction except that in which we had come. I therefore 
decided to stay where we were for a day (lat. 67° 40' S. 
and 17^ 6^ E. long), and if there was no sign of opening 
of the ice at the end of that time to retrace my steps 
and look for open leads farther to the west. 

There were a number of seals within reach which I 
determined to collect, and so putting the ship alongside 
a suitable floe I sent off some of the men to kill and bring 
them aboard. They secured nine altogether, far more 
than we required for meat, but I wanted the blubber 
to help out the coal supply. We took for the larder, 
therefore, only the dainties, such as the brains, 
kidneys, livers and hearts, and the choicest pieces of 
flesh, which are the undercuts from the inside of the 

We saw that day the first emperor penguin of the trip 
standing solitary, as is the wont of this species, upon a 
floe. Wilkins secured it as a specimen. The emperors 
are the most stately of all the penguins and have the 
finest markings. The king penguin is more brightly 
coloured, but the emperor has the more delicate shades 
which merge gradually into one another. Seen on the 
floe in bright sunshiiie they have a really beautiful 

If approached slowly they make no attempt to run 
away, but may even take a few sedate steps forward to 
meet the stranger. When within a few paces they stop 
and commonly make a profound bow, just as if they were 
greeting one's arrival. If approached quickly and sud- 
denly they take alarm and retire, first of all upon their 
feet; but if hustled they drop upon their bellies and 

Photo : Dr. Macklin 




Photos: Dr. Ma:klin 

Into the South 109 4 

using both feet and flippers, sledge themselves along at 
a considerable speed. Seen from behind they look like 
gigantic beetles, and there is something about this mode 
of progression which is provocative of laughter. I have 
noticed this when I have been showing pictures upon the 
cinema screen, the audience invariably breaking into 
laughter when it occurs. 

This species is found only in the far south, and has 
i the peculiarity of nesting during the winter. The term 
* " nesting " may be misleading, for they do not make any 
nests but lay their egg (only one egg is laid by each bird) 
upon the snow surface. Both male and female birds 
take turns in hatching out. They have a small depres- 
sion on the foot into which the egg is wriggled by means 
of the beak. They are able to move about carrying the 
egg, and as Sir Ernest Shackleton used to say, " they 
act both as a cradle and a perambulator." When they 
wish to transfer the egg from one to another they stand 
belly to belly and indulge in a vast amount of wriggling ; 
but in the process the egg is often dropped on to the ice 
and has to be wriggled on again from there. Two of 
the most marked characteristics of penguins are their 
patience and tenacity of purpose, both of which are 

A few days before we entered the cul-de-sac Dell 
killed the South Georgia pig which was presented to 
us by Mr. Hansen, of Leith Harbour. It proved excel- 
lent eating and a pleasant change from seal meat. The 
head remained, and as it would make a meal for only 
one of the messes, we agreed to gamble to decide which 
should have it. Kerr was deputed to represent us, but 
lost to the after-mess. Even such small incidents as this 
attracted an interest just then. 

no Shackleton's Last Voyage 

A sounding taken on this day (February 7th) showed 
2,356 fathoms in position lat. 67° 40' S. and 17° 6' E. 

At 5.0 A.M. on the following day the ice had shown 
no signs of opening, so I decided to turn back and look 
for a more open route to the east or west. We steamed 
north until noon, when, not caring to expend coal in 
going away from our objective, I gave orders to reduce 
steam, and proceeded under sail. The wind was 
southerly and of moderate strength. I gathered in this 
way some idea of what ice navigation meant in the days 
before the introduction of the steam engine. Progress, 
in spite of favourable winds, was slow, but I was sur- 
prised at the effect of a long-continued steady pressure 
against floes, some of them of quite considerable weight. 
They gave way slowly before our bows, and the Quest 
slipped of her own will (for she would not answer her 
helm) into the cracks between them and slowly wedged 
her way through. 

We were now so deep in the pack that there was no 
appreciable swell, and the Quest was consequently 
steady. I continued the operation which we had been 
compelled to give up before, and swung out the port 
life-boat, Worsley being a spectator only. This time 
there was no accident. 

Worsley now started to go on the bridge and keep a 
watch, though of course he was compelled to take things 
very quietly, at any rate in so far as his movements were 
concerned. Quiet in other respects his watch certainly 
was not, for members of it carried on long-continued, 
and often argumentative, dialogues, usually at the top 
of their voices. This was especially the case with one 
of them, and many times I have leapt on deck with a 

Into the South iii 

sense of impending danger, wakened by shouting that 
proved to be the most trivial of remarks. 

The weather was fair during the day, with a moder- 
ate southerly wind, no sunshine, and occasional snow 
squalls. At 7.30 p.m. we had made thirty-five miles to 
the northward. This was all to the bad and a bit dis- 
appointing. However, we hoped for a change before 
long. Seals appeared on the floe in quantity during 
the day and also a number of emperor penguins stand- 
ing, as usual, stately and alone. 

Killers were about and a large number of birds — 
Antarctic petrels, Wilson's petrels, and a few pretty pure 
white snow petrels. 

During the night (February 9th) our luck changed 
and we were able to make southerly again. Through- 
out the morning we met loose pack and a number of 
leads of open water, so that by 12.0 noon we were only 
eleven miles north of the previous position. We had 
the same conditions till 4.0 p.m., when we met with dense 
pack. From the crow's nest, however, I saw " water 
sky " to the southward and determined to push on to 
the utmost ability of the ship. We progressed very 
slowly and only with the greatest difficulty. It took 
much hard steaming and consumption of valuable coal 
for the Quest to make any impression on this heavy floe. 

The evening of this day was fine, beautiful and still, 
the sort that takes hold of one and sends mind and 
memory wandering far afield. There was not a ripple 
on the small pools between the floes, in which were 
numbers of small eufhausice swimming about. Four or 
five seals came about the ship and accompanied us, 
rubbing themselves against the sides and popping their 
heads out to regard us with large eyes of a beautiful soft 

112 ShackIeton*s Last Voyage 

brown colour. They were evidently in a playful mood. 
On the ice seals are sluggish and very helpless, but in 
the water they are wonderful, and their swimming move- 
ments are most graceful as they dart about twisting and 
turning and occasionally rising to look round. 

Killers were about earlier in the day, but no penguins. 
An ugly-looking sea-leopard put his head out of the 
water and gazed malignantly over the edge of the floe. 
In a pool at some distance from the ship I caught sight 
of a black mass rising and falling, and through my 
binoculars witnessed what appeared to be a fight between 
two sea-leopards. One of them leapt continually from 
the water to a height of some six feet, and the water was 
churned to a mass of foam. Suddenly it all ceased. 
What tragedy was enacted on that perfect evening ? On 
such a night, amidst the pure whiteness of one's sur- 
roundings, it was hard to realize that in the struggle 
for existence the unrelenting laws of Nature must 

We passed close alongside a floe with a seal on it. 
I shot it; Macklin jumped off on to the floe and made 
fast a line, scarcely taking time to stop we hauled it 
aboard and proceeded on our way. Looking back I saw 
the surface of the snow smirched with its blood. So 
Man passed leaving a red stain; and yet but a few 
moments before I had been moralizing on " Nature red 
in tooth and claw." 

Very few birds were about, with the exception of 
snow petrels, a few Antarctic petrels and a single young 
Dominican gull. 

We were pushing on, but the prospect at the moment 
was not promising. From aloft there was nothing to be 
seen but ice closely packed and stretching as far as the 




Photes: Wilkins 





ii ^^ *'^^X,mZ2jt>^^i 

Photos: Dr. Macklin 


Into the South 113 

eye could reach in all directions. I distrust fine weather 
in the pack; it usually means lowered temperature, close 
ice and little open water. 

February loth opened as a beautiful morning, with 
bright sunshine. The ice was white and sparkling and 
the water a deep blue. The air was keen and crisp, and 
all hands revelled in the improved weather conditions. 
Less so myself, however, for I feared what was por- 
tended. I prefer damp misty weather in the pack, for 
that means the presence of a considerable amount of 
open water amongst the ice and better conditions for 
navigating, in spite of poor visibility. 

The number of seals that accompanied us increased 
to twenty or more. They refused to leave us, though 
they occasionally took fright and dashed off with a swirl 
of water. Seen from aloft a school of seals is a wonder- 
ful sight. There was evidently something on the ship's 
side which had an attraction for them, for they seized 
the chance of every stop to rise out of the water and 
nibble at frozen pieces of ice which had formed just 
above the water-line. The ice on the patent anchors 
which projected from the hawse holes two or three feet 
above the surface especially attracted them, and they 
collected in clusters of five or six to nibble at it. 

In the early morning the pack was composed of 
dense, heavy old floes, much broken up and bearing the 
remains of pressure ridges through which progress was 
very slow. At 7.30 a.m. we entered a lead with surface 
just freezing over, which offered little resistance to the 
ship. It was literally full of killers, which crossed and 
recrossed our bows and " blew " all about us. Our seal 
friends did not accompany us into the lead, for which 
the presence of the killers was no doubt a good and 

114 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

sufficient reason. The crab-eaters seem to have no fear 
of them whilst in closely set pack with only small pools 
of water between the floes, but one rarely sees crab-eaters 
in larger stretches of water. Occasionally they have been 
seen in large numbers travelling at high speed. Hurley, 
the photographer of the last expedition, was able to get 
a photographic record of them passing close to the ship, 
the number being so great that the surface of the water 
was lashed to foam. That they are hunted by the killers 
is beyond doubt, for one frequently sees them shoot out 
of water and land with a heavy wallop on a piece of ice, 
look all round and bump themselves violently along, 
finally disappearing with a dive into the water again. 
This differs largely from their ordinary method of land- 
ing when they wish to rest. In this case they may be 
seen first of all rising high out of the water and looking 
over the edge of the floe, obviously noting its nature, 
and searching for a shelter from the wind. They land 
with the same heavy flop, but show none of the excite- 
ment when up. 

On one occasion at my base in Queen Mary's 
Land during the Mawson Expedition I was stand- 
ing on an ice foot with Mr. Harrison, my biologist, 
when I saw a killer actually attack a seal which, 
however, escaped and effected a landing on the ice 
foot. It was bleeding profusely and was in a very 
exhausted condition. On close examination we found 
six large wounds, all of which had penetrated the blubber 
to the flesh, none of them less than three inches deep. 
At first I was inclined to put the animal out of its misery, 
but my biologist asked me to let it remain so that we 
might see whether or not it would recover. It lost an 
amazing amount of blood, which melted its way into the 



Into the South 115 

ice beneath, but on the fourth day it had recovered 
sufficiently to enter the sea again. Nearly all seals bear 
the scars of old wounds in vertical strokes down their 
sides. Wilkins collected a number of skins in which 
these scars were more extensive than usual, and prepared 
them for sending back as specimens to the British 

The water in the hold had increased so much by now 
that it required four hours of hard pumping to reduce. 
It was hard, monotonous work. 

In the afternoon we encountered the first Adelie 
penguin which we had seen on this expedition. It was 
standing alone on a flat piece of floe, and at sight of us 
evinced the most marked surprise, looking at us first with 
one eye and then the other, and finally started towards 
us at a run. Its waddling gait resembled that of a fat 
old white-waistcoated gentleman in a desperate hurry. 
Many times it fell forward, but, picking itself up, hurried 
on till, reaching the edge of the floe, it tumbled rather 
than dived into the water. In a few seconds it shot out, 
to alight upright upon another floe where it continued 
the chase, but by this time we were drawing away and 
he gave it up, uttering a last " Cl-a-a-k," as much as to 
say, '* Well, I'm jiggered ! " Later we saw many more 
who showed the same interest, some of them taking to 
the water and coming about the ship or following in 
our wake. 

We entered a broad belt of large flat pieces of one- 
year-old floe interspersed with thinner new ice which the 
Quest was able to crack, although it usually required 
several blows to split it widely enough to let her through. 

Following on this we entered a broad lead of open 
water, but about 10 p.m. encountered very thick and 

ii6 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

solid floe. Owing to the dim light it was impossible to 
distinguish rotten mushy ice which we could safely ram 
from solid pieces which badly jarred the ship. About 
midnight I lay to till more light should give me a chance 
to get a better view from the mast head. 

We obtained a sounding of 2,163 fathoms in position 
lat. 68° 3' S. and 16° 12' E. long., and as soon as the 
light improved we set off again and spent the whole 
of February nth energetically pushing south. The 
temperature fell rapidly, reaching 18° F. at midnight. 
All the open water started freezing over and was covered 
with a skin of ice which offered little resistance to the 
ship when she was well under way, but impeded her 
considerably when in the dense pack she was forced to 
be continually stopping and restarting again. 

As far as the actual weather was concerned the Ant- 
arctic can offer nothing better than that which we were 
experiencing, fine and clear, the air crisp and cold, yet 
not sufficiently so to be unpleasant. As the sun sloped 
down to the horizon with the gentle decline it takes in 
these latitudes, in contrast to the suddenness with which 
it disappears in the tropics, we had a beautiful long 
sunset, the sky taking the most wonderful colours, 
crimson, amber and gold. The snow surface was a 
lovely pale pink except where each hummock threw a 
long black shadow. The surface of the newly freezing 
parts, still and polished, reflected a pale green. Across 
the vault of the sky were little fleecy rolls of pink cloud, 
while nearer the horizon were heavier banks of a deep 
crimson. Stretching away behind in an ever-narrowing 
ribbon one saw the lane cut by the passage of the ship 
disturbed only in the foreground by the ripple of the 
screw. In contrast to the vivid colouring ahead that 

Into the South 117 

astern had the black and white effect of a pencil sketch. 
A perfectly wonderful evening and yet — timeo Danaos 
— I do not like the pack when it smiles. The prospect 
was not good. I knew that unless we got a rise of 
temperature things might be bad for us, for it would be 
quite impossible to forge through the thickening ice, 
which had the effect of cementing together the heavier 
floes so that a much more powerful ship than the Quest 
would have been quite unable to make any impression 
upon them. 

There was one thing I knew I must avoid. The 
Quest was not suitable for " freezing in." Her shape 
was not such as would cause her to rise with lateral pres- 
sure, and it was almost certain that should she become 
involved in any of the heavy disturbances which fre- 
quently occur she was not likely to survive. The hazard 
of a boat journey was not likely to meet with the same 
fortunate ending that we experienced in the Endurance 
expedition, where our escape was indeed a miraculous 
one. Nearly all our special winter equipment was at 
Cape Town, which was to have been our base of opera- 
tions. But weighing even more than these factors was T 
another on which one can only briefly touch : in spite of f. 
a solid nucleus of old, tried Antarctic men, and others ] 
of proved worth in different fields, there was a discordant / 
element in the personnel which I was anxious to adjust 1 
before I exposed the party to the trials and vicissitudes | 
of a polar winter. r 

During the afternoon Worsley took a sounding, find- 
ing in lat. 68° 52' S. and 16° 55' E. long, a depth of 
1,555 fathoms, which showed a shoaling of 608 fathoms 
in 49 miles of southing. The snapper contained a 
specimen of grey mud which was handed to the geologist. 


ii8 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

I had no rest during the night, for I realized that 
on the next few hours hung the fate of this effort. 
Unless the temperature rose and the ice showed signs 
of loosening it would be necessary to turn back, little 
though I liked the prospect. I was in the crow's nest the 
moment that the dim midnight light began to improve, 
searching all round the horizon with binoculars. Every- 
where the ice lay tightly packed and solid. Mcllroy 
reported a further drop of two degrees Fahrenheit. The 
filmy, freezing surface of the leads had become definitely 
frozen over, so that there was not a drop of water to be 
seen anywhere. Even to the northward the outlook was 
bad, and I began to fear that after all we might be beset. 
That we could push no farther into the heavy ice was 
certain. I decided to remain where I was for the day, 
but longer than that would be fatal unless a change 
occurred in the meantime. I manoeuvred the ship to a 
large solid floe to enable the scientists to take their 
instruments over the side, and give all hands a chance 
of exercise after the cramping spell of shipboard. Near 
by a fat Weddell seal lay asleep. I shot it, and Mcllroy 
and Macklin skinned it and took the blubber to the 
bunkers. Carr, with the assistance of Marr, Naisbitt 
and Argles, brought in some ice for use as drinking 

Sea ice, although salt, has the peculiar property that 
if piled up for two or three days, either naturally as 
pressure ridges or artificially by heaping up a number 
of frozen slabs, the salt leaves the upper pieces, which 
can be melted down and freely used as drinking water. 
Physicists have not been able to explain fully the pheno- 
menon. It is, however, an easily demonstrable fact, 
and it is by this property of the ice alone that ships have 

Photo: ll'ilkifis- 


Into the South 



been able to winter in the pack. In the height of summer, 
when the sun beats down strongly upon the ice, pools of 
water form on the surface of the floes. They are fresh 
and can be used for drinking. It is necessary, however, 
if water is being taken from this source, to see that the 
floe is a good solid one, not " rotted " underneath, in 

The track of the Quest as compared with the tracks of Biscoe and 

which case it may be brackish. During some of our 
marches over the ice of the Weddell Sea after the loss 
of the Endurance the going was very bad and the work 
tremendously hard on account of soft snow, which let 
the men down to the hips and the dogs to their bellies, 
and we suffered severely from thirst. When we encoun- 
tered any of these pools they were freely used by men 
and dogs for drinking, and we never noticed any salty 


120 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

The eating of snow is bad; of this there can be no 
doubt, though I have seen it stated in the writings of 
some explorers that it is quite suitable for quenching 
thirst, and all that is necessary is to overcome the pre- 
judice against its use. The eating of a little snow is 
harmless, but if one indulges in the practice for a long 
time the mouth becomes very dry due to the paralysing 
effect of cold on the salivary glands. The result 
is that more and more of it is required and the dry- 
ness of the mouth is intensified. Any weak spots 
which may have developed in the teeth are at once dis- 
covered, with consequent severe facial neuralgia. The 
swallowing of the scarcely melted water tends to upset 
digestion, as is well seen in the United States of 
America, where the frequent taking of iced drinks is 
a national practice and dyspepsia is the national com- 
plaint. This is not a theoretical observation, for as an 
enthusiastic young man in my early days of exploration 
I made the experiment to my sorrow, and I have noted 
the effects upon other members of the different expedi- 
tions which have entered these regions. 

Worsley, with the assistance of Dell and Watts, took 
a sounding, finding bottom at 1,089 fathoms in lat. 69° 
17' S. and 17° 9' E. long. This showed a shoaling of 
466 fathoms in twenty-nine miles, and certainly indi- 
cated the approach to the continental shelf. Once again 
I climbed to the crow's nest and scanned the horizon to 
the south. The sky in that direction had a hard white 
look such as one would get over snow-covered land, but 
is also seen over densely packed ice. I felt sure that if 
we could only work our way for another fifty miles to 
the south we should sight or find indications of land, but 
no ship ever built could possibly have pushed through 

Into the South 121 

the ice to the south of us, not even the most powerful 

Of animal and bird life there was very little, but 
though if present they would have been additional 
evidence in favour of the proximity of land, their absence 
did not necessarily negative it. 

Looking backwards to the north I saw that the ice 
in that direction, though less dense than that to the 
south, was settling firm and hard, and I decided that 
as soon as the scientific staff had completed their observa- 
tions I must beat a hasty and energetic retreat. 

Few people can realize what an effort it had been to 
force the little Qztest to this position. It was hard to 
have to turn back. It was necessary, however, to make 
every effort to escape this freeze up, but once in loose 
pack I was determined to seize the first chance to push 
south again. 



AT about 4.0 P.M. on February 12th, having come 
to my decision, I blew the steam whistle for the 
recall of all hands, who had thoroughly enjoyed their 
day on the ice. Query had had a splendid time in spite 
of having once or twice fallen through mushy holes into 
freezing water, and he came back to the ship thoroughly 
tired from the unwonted exercise. 

We had some difficulty in getting under way, but 
once the ship had gathered momentum she was able to 
push on through the new ice. Navigation required the 
utmost watchfulness and care; we could not afford to 
delay, for minutes totalled up, and the ice was increasing 
hourly in thickness. Every stop added to the difficulties 
of getting under way again. I must pay a high tribute 
to the unremitting energy and unfailing resource of 
Worsley and Jeffrey at this critical period as we forced 
our way from the closing grip of the pack. Macklin 
writes in his diary : 

The way in which the Quest is made to push ahead 
and to dodge and wriggle past the most awkward 
places is wonderful. Kerr is excelling himself below 
— I hope he does not bust her up, for these engines 
have given at one time and another a lot of trouble. 
It is interesting to compare the different watches at 
work. Commander Wild goes about the job quietly 



F kotos : IVilkins 



Photos: lV,lki„s 

The Ice 123 

and steadily, without fuss or shouting, and un- 
doubtedly makes the best headway. Old Wuzzles 
(Worsley) also goes ahead energetically, but to an 
accompaniment of noise that might waken the dead, 
for which, perhaps, he is less responsible than some 
members of his watch. Jeffrey also makes surpris- 
ingly good headway, with a running commentary 
usually the reverse of complimentary on all things 

I was wakened at 4.0 on the following morning 
by McLeod, who shouted in at my door, " One bell and 
the ship's afire ! " In a moment I was out of bed and 
on deck, to find dense smoke and flame ascending from 
what appeared to be the engine-room skylight. Rushing 
to the engine-room door, I was met by Smith, who said 
that everything was all right below. The flames were 
leaping up alongside the funnel. I went up on to the 
bridge and shouted to the other members of my watch 
who had turned out to get Pyrene extinguishers, of which 
we kept a number always on hand. We squirted their 
contents vigorously into the midst of the flames, and 
soon had them subdued, when I discovered that the 
cause of the trouble lay in some cork fenders and coils 
of tarry rope which had been placed against the funnel 
on the previous day. The flames had spread to two large 
wooden sidelight boards and to some canvas gear. Our 
portable hand-sounding machine was also involved, and 
was, unfortunately, rendered almost useless. The fire, 
while it lasted, was a brisk one, and had we been com- 
pelled to rely on the old hose system for its extinction 
there is no doubt that it would have proved serious. The 
rapidity with which we were able to control it speaks 

124 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

much for the efficacy of the extinguishers in use, which 
were of the carbon-dioxide producing type. 

Having leapt straight from our bunks, we were 
exceedingly lightly clothed, and, now that the excite- 
ment was over, we noticed the cold atmosphere and 
scampered off to garb ourselves more warmly. 

We continued vigorously pushing north all day. 
Numerous crab-eater seals were seen, many of them on 
our direct route ; but although I was anxious to lay in a 
store of their blubber I did not stop. We saw also a 
number of emperor penguins. Bird life, as I have 
said, had been very scarce, and represented only by 
snow petrels, a number of which, outlined in silvery 
whiteness against the blue of the sky as they passed 
overhead on their way south, presented a very beautiful 

In the evening we passed by a floe on which five 
large seals lay asleep, and I determined to stop for a 
short time and take them up. There is no difficulty in 
killing and obtaining any number of Antarctic seals, no 
matter how small the floe they are on, provided one 
approaches them quietly and gets within a range at which 
they can be picked off rapidly and with certainty one 
after the other. On this occasion I gave the word to 
withhold fire till we were close alongside, but Douglas, 
apparently unable to restrain his impetuosity, fired too 
soon and succeeded in wounding one, which heaved itself 
about frantically and startled the others to sudden wake- 
fulness. To make matters worse, Douglas continued 
firing, and some of them dived into the sea. It is a 
characteristic of these seals that if wounded they prefer 
to be on a floe, and all but one came back again, when 
they were properly dispatched and hoisted aboard for 

The Ice 125 

removal of their blubber. The moment they were aboard 
I set off again, scarcely waiting for the men on the floe, 
who scrambled up as the ship was moving away. 

There is a great difference between Arctic and 
Antarctic seals. In the North the seal has always to be 
on the look out for the polar bear, and when it comes 
ashore to sleep does so fitfully, frequently raising its 
head to look about, and slipping back to the water on 
the least alarm. Its enemies are above and not below 
water. The contrary holds in the Antarctic, where the 
seals are vigorously preyed upon by the killers and 
sea-leopards. On the surface, however, they have no 
enemies, and although they take fright if approached 
quickly or noisily, one can, by moving quietly, get so 
close to them that they can, if so desired, be clubbed 
instead of shot. This clubbing should be done with a 
heavy instrument, such as the loom of an oar, and the 
point to be aimed at is the nose. If the blow is delivered 
accurately and with sufficient weight, the seal is imme- 
diately rendered unconscious, after which the jugular 
yeins and the main arteries of the neck are severed with 
a knife, without one of which at his belt no good sailor 
or explorer goes anywhere. In any case the carcass of 
the seal should always be thoroughly bled. Another 
useful instrument by which the animal can be instan- 
taneously killed is an Alpine ice-pick, the point being 
driven by a smart downward tap through the vault of the 
skull. This has the disadvantage of destroying the 
brain, which we always used for cooking, and is, indeed, 
the greatest dainty provided by these animals. The 
method of killing seals which we always adopted when 
we had plenty of ammunition was to shoot them. I 
always aim at the neck, just behind the skull, where 

126 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

many vital structures are brought into close relationship. 
Death is instantaneous, bleeding takes place freely, and 
the brain is not destroyed. 

Macklin sustained a nasty cut during the flensing, 
running his hand off the haft of the knife on to the blade. 
He rather prided himself on his knives, on which he 
kept a razor edge, and on his flensing, and I think he 
felt annoyed at his clumsiness, for it was with an almost 
shamefaced air that he went to Mcllroy to get his hand 
bound up. 

The art of keeping a hunting-knife in really good 
order is one which few people understand. A keen edge 
is essential for neat and rapid work, yet I have seen 
many people hacking laboriously away with a blade 
which would scarcely penetrate butter. I always carry 
a pocket carborundum stone, and I carefully clean and 
sharpen my knife every time I use it. Before using the 
stone it is important to see that there is no blood or 
blubber remaining on the blade. After a heavy day's 
flensing it may take from half an hour to an hour to 
bring the edge to perfection again, and I am always 
amused at the man who brings something resembling a 
butcher's steel and says : " You might just sharpen that 
for me, will you ? " 

Another art is the making of a good leather sheath, 
for that is a thing one cannot buy. It is careful and con- 
tinued attention to small things that makes for efficiency 
at this kind of work. 

It did not get completely dark at midnight. The 
increasing light in the early morning produced a wonder- 
ful sunrise. Owing to the gradual upward curve of the 
sun in these latitudes, the effects last for hours and 
change slowly, contrasting strongly with the evanescent 

Photo : U iikins 


The Ice 127 

tropical skies, where the sun rises abruptly above the 

horizon and in the evening falls back so suddenly that 

there is no twilight. The sky to the eastward was lit up 

with the most delicate and beautiful colours, which were 

reflected on the surface of the floe. The old floes passed 

slowly from pale pink to crimson and, as the sun came 

over the rim, to the palest and most delicate heliotrope. 

The darker newly frozen ice changed from bronze to 

light apple-green. To the westward a large golden 

moon was poised in a cloudless sky, turning the floes to 

the palest of gold. No words of mine can adequately f 

convey the beauty of such a morning. \ 

These days impressed themselves vividly in one's 
memory, which has the knack of picking out the brighter 
spots in the greyness of these regions. I think it is 
impressions like these which, working perhaps subcon- 
sciously, produce that haunting restlessness which makes 
one feel suddenly, and without apparent cause, dis- 
satisfied with civilization, its veneer and artificiality, its 
restrictions and its ugliness. Certain it is that few 
people who have travelled away from the beaten track \ 

and spent long, unbroken periods face to face with \ 

Nature can hope to escape the sudden feelings of rest- 
lessness and disquietude which come upon one without ' 
warning and drive one to pacing up and down, to face 
the rain on a gusty night, or do anything so long as one 
can be alone for a while. I think that every living being 
has at one time or another experienced that curious feel- 
ing — it is hard to say of what exactly — a sort of wonder- 
ing lostness that comes over one in certain circumstances. 
In our own country one feels it on fine nights in the 
gloaming, when everything is stilled and the silence 
unbroken save by the full-throated song of some bird. 

128 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

which seems only to accentuate it. One feels something 
of it even in the cities in the quiet of a summer evening, 
with the smoke of countless chimneys winding lazily 
upwards, but it is in the great untouched areas of the 
earth that it makes its deepest impression and grips one 
with the greatest intensity. 

It has been my fortune to visit many parts of the 
world, and I can recall wonderful evenings in many 
places which have created a deep impression on me, but 
there particularly stand out in my mind's eye some of the 
long Antarctic autumn twilights too beautiful to describe. 
I have seen the most materialistic and unimpression- 
able of men strung to an absolute silence, scarcely daring 
to breathe, filled with something intangible and inexplic- 
able. The very sledge dogs stand stock still, gazing 
intently into the farness, ears cocked, listening — for 
what.'* Suddenly the spell is broken and with a deep 
breath one turns again to work. 

We pushed on and on throughout the 14th and made 
on the whole pretty good headway. I stopped just long 
enough to let Worsley take a sounding, depth 1,925 
fathoms (lat. 68° 21' S. and 16° o' E. long.). With 
every hour the ice increased in thickness and the Quest 
had all she could do to push forward. Work at the 
wheel was strenuous, for in the new ice the ship did not 
make a straight track, but swerved all the time from 
side to side, and the helm had to be swung repeatedly 
in either direction to check the deviation. 

About midday we encountered heavy floe against 
which we made poor headway, and I began to realize 
that it would be touch and go as to whether we would 
get out or not. I sent for Kerr and told him to give 
his engines all they would stand. He increased the 

The Ice 129 

pressure of steam, and the ship began to make headway 
slowly but surely. 

In the early afternoon the weather changed. Mcllroy 
reported a rise of temperature to 22° Fahr., and there 
was a swell, very faint but quite noticeable. A skua 
gull and a giant petrel appeared. All these signs were 
good, indicating a more open pack ahead of us and open 
water within reasonable distance. 

By 8.0 P.M. we were once more making good head- 
way, and I went below, to fall soundly asleep after my 
days of anxiety and broken rest. 

Owing to the darkness we were compelled to heave 
to for two hours at midnight, for with the northing we 
had made there was less daylight, and one cannot dis- 
tinguish in the dim light between rotten floes and solid 
ones, which if rammed would fetch up the ship all stand- 
ing and possibly start the timbers and carry away a 
certain amount of gear. 

The temperature had risen to 24° Fahr., but when I 
came on deck in the early morning of the 15th the out- 
look was not good. The air was not warm enough to 
prevent freezing of the ice, and from the mast-head I 
saw heavy pack to the northward. There was one good 
sign, however, and that was an increased northerly swell 
coming along in slow leisurely rolls. It is a fine sight 
to see a huge field of ice rising and falling in this manner. 

We pushed energetically on and later in the day we 
entered loose open pack. I had no doubt now that we 
were out of danger of being beset. It was a relief to 
be able to relax a little after the constant effort of the 
last fortnight. 

Although we were now free from danger of being 
beset we had entered a new set of conditions which were 

130 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

by no means a sinecure. The ice had the effect of 
deadening swell, but the pieces of floe about the pack 
edge were often thrown into violent motion and made 
to bump and grind together by the action of the sea. By 
coming north also we were losing daylight, and we had 
now from two to three hours of darkness to contend 
with each day. Navigation under these circumstances 
required constant care and watchfulness, so that I had 
still to maintain a pretty active vigilance. For much of 
our journey about the northern limits of the pack I was 
compelled for the sake of economy to shut off steam and 
proceed under sail only, which gave me some idea of 
the difficulties which Bellingshausen and Biscoe had to 
contend with, and enabled me to appreciate their reti- 
cence to push deeply into the ice. To both of these 
predecessors I must pay a tribute of the highest praise 
for their determined and persevering work about this 
segment. In the whole of my experience as a seaman 
I have never encountered a part of the world where 
weather and sea conditions generally are so uncomfort- 
able. Periods of gale, with heavy swell and grinding 
floe, when the outlook is obscured by driving wind and 
blinding snow squalls, alternate with periods of calm, 
when fog settles in a dense pall of fine mist which forms 
heavy rime on all spars and running gear, and freezing 
solid interferes greatly with their working. It takes 
days for the huge rollers to subside, and the floes grind 
and groan incessantly. I had always the feeling that I 
could raise steam at short notice, but these early ex- 
plorers were dependent entirely on winds, which blow 
either too hard or not hard enough, and never seem to 
strike the happy medium. To John Biscoe, British sea- 
man, the trip must have been one of long continued 

The Ice 131 

struggle, for he was ill equipped, scurvy set in and he 
lost the greater part of the crews of both his vessels. 
On his own ship, the Tula, there were only three men 
able to stand when the ship reached Hobart, and on 
the Lively only three were alive when she reached Port 
Philip. His story, told baldly, makes enthralling read- 
ing for those who can appreciate it. 

We made good progress to the northward, the day's 
run at noon on the i6th being estimated by Worsley at 
seventy-seven miles. We passed through much open 
water with a strong easterly swell, but encountered also 
several belts of heavy, closely packed ice consisting of 
old floe which had undergone heavy pressure. Owing 
to the swell it was impossible to avoid some severe 
bumps. Birds were about in large numbers, including 
Antarctic petrels, giant petrels and terns. We saw 
numerous killers, and witnessed a most interesting 
display by two of them which were playing and disport- 
ing themselves on the surface, flinging their huge bulks 
high into the air, and creating a tremendous turmoil in 
the water. Crab-eaters were seen in numbers on the 
floes, sometimes singly, often in bunches of five or six. 
We saw no penguins or snow petrels. Worsley reported 
a single Mother Carey's Chicken as having been about. 
They all pointed to the proximity of open ocean, and I 
expected that we should be clear of ice by next day. 

A sounding taken in lat. 67° of S. and 14° 29' E. 
long, gave a depth of 2,341 fathoms. 

In the evening we again entered an area of heavy 
old floes, which moved about and pressed together in 
the swell. Snow squalls and dim light made the naviga- 
tion of them a difficult matter, but by noon of the follow- 
ing day we had got clear of pack and were in open water 

132 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

with a clear sky to the northward. Numerous solitary 
pieces of floe and heavy growlers were still dotted about. 
Growlers are heavy, solid pieces of ice, grey or greenish- 
grey in colour, which float with their tops just awash. 
They are consequently difficult to see, especially in poor 
light, and a close watch has always to be kept for them. 

Some of the floes carried passengers in the shape of 
crab-eater seals. We saw a number of huge blue whales, 
which are recognized by their large size, high vertical 
spout which opens out into a dense cloud of spray, and 
the presence of a fin. Killers also were about in large 

In the early morning of the i8th we turned south 
again in another attempt to push through to land or ice 
barrier. From the lateness of the season we knew this 
must necessarily be the last attempt for this year. 

We had not proceeded many miles when we again 
encountered pack, which compelled us to take a south- 
westerly direction, passing through a good deal of brash, 
but keeping clear of heavy ice. The weather was thick 
and snowy. Later we encountered some very old floes 
full of small caves, and with well-defined necks where 
the sea had worn them away by the continual wash, so 
that they resembled gigantic mushrooms growing from 
the surface of the water. 

Marr was taken ill at this time with sore throat and 
hign temperature. He said nothing of the condition 
himself and would have struggled on had not Dell in- 
formed Macklin that he looked a bit sick. He is a hardy 
youngster and showed his contempt for the cold by 
walking about inadequately clothed. He had a vivid 
maroon-coloured muffler, beautifully soft and warm. I 
once asked him if it was a present from his best girl. 

The Ice 133 

" Yes," he replied, " from my mother." I threatened 
him that if he appeared without this round his neck in 
future I would pack him off to bed and keep him there. 
The doctors reported that his condition was not serious, 
and a day or two in bed would put him right again. 

We continued in a southerly direction till the night 
of the 20th, when we met heavy pack which compelled 
us to turn west. At noon on the 21st we were forced 
to come back in a north-westerly direction. In the even- 
ing we skirted a line of ice running west-south-west, and 
on the morning of the 22nd again entered open sea. 

The 22nd was Worsley's birthday. He had reached 
his fiftieth milestone, but could easily have passed for 
ten years less. We celebrated the occasion by an extra 
special spread at which, to the surprise and (needless 
to say) delight, of nearly everyone, some bottles of beer 
materialized. The piece de resistance was a large pink 
cake bearing in sugar the inscription, " Wuzzles' 21st." 
He was called upon to cut it himself, and was given a 
large steel chopper with which to do it. Having per- 
formed a Maori war dance, he proceeded to cut it into 
slices. It proved to be a bit hard, so he attempted to 
lift it to a better position, to find, to his amazement, that 
he could scarcely budge it. The cake turned out to be 
a 56-lb. sinker, which Green had covered with sugar. 
However, a proper cake was forthcoming, and the even- 
ing was spent merrily. 

The Quest was not a comfortable ship, and there 
was little to take the mind from general routine and the 
business in hand. The continuous struggle with the 
pack became after a time very exhausting, and there 
was a chance also of its becoming something of an ob- 
session. Consequently, occasions such as birthdays. 

134 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

which provided a diversion and helped to lift the men 
out of themselves, were of the greatest value. 

February 23rd was a dull grey day. We hoisted the 
squaresail at daybreak and continued to run off before 
a strong easterly wind. With sails set there was great 
difficulty in getting the wardroom stove to burn, for both 
topsail and squaresail created a powerful and baffling 
down draught for which we designed and made all sorts 
and shapes of cowls, but without much success. The 
wardroom became filled with dense acrid smoke, and 
the fire was generally allowed to go out when the 
temperature fell so much that no one could use it to 
sit about, and those taking their watch below were driven 
to their bunks. Wilkins and Douglas in the forecastle 
had the same difficulty. Wilkins, ever resourceful, built 
a cowl, but it fouled the sheet of the forestay sail and 
was swept away. Nothing daunted, he built another, 
which met the same fate. With exemplary patience he 
built a new one each time the other was lost ! We did 
our best to protect the cowls when setting or taking in 
sail, but in heavy winds, when the squaresail was let go 
at the run, it was almost impossible to do so. 

Since the evening of the 21st we had made in a west 
to west-south-westerly direction, but, seeing what ap- 
peared to be open seas with sky to the horizon a deep 
black, I now turned south again. Within an hour, how- 
ever, we met with small pieces of ice, which became more 
numerous as we proceeded. We then entered an area of 
sea full of small round pieces, like snowballs, covered 
with a fine powdery ice. Snow settling on this area gave 
it the appearance of a " sea of milk." The swell con- 
tinued, but the surface was like oil, unbroken by a single 
ripple. We passed from this into a belt where the sur- 

The Ice 135 

face was just beginning to freeze, forming the thinnest 
possible film of ice. The snow on this gave the impres- 
sion of a grey sea. Visibility, owing to the snow which 
fell quietly and continuously, was poor. The whole 
outlook gave a curious impression of greyness, grey sea, 
grey sky, and everything grey wherever one looked. 

As we progressed still farther the filmy surface was 
replaced by definite pancake formation. Amongst the 
pancakes were numerous heavy old lumps, much water- 
worn at sea level, but heavy underneath with long pro- 
jecting tongues. 

The night was cold and snowy and the decks became 
covered with a very slippery slush on which, with the 
rolling of the ship, it was not easy to keep a footing. 
We took in sail, a cold and unpleasant job because all 
spars, sails and running gear had become coated with 
a thick covering of ice. 

Dinner that night was a cold business, and the dull- 
ness of the day and general outlook had rather damped 
our spirits. Macklin writes on this date : 

Owing to the stove refusing to burn, the ward- 
room was cold, and we gathered round the dinner-table 
feeling pretty miserable. Green had prepared a big 
dish of hot potatoes in their jackets. I placed the 
biggest I could find under my jersey and it warmed 
me up finely. I kept moving it round so as to warm 
as much of my body as possible, and finally ate it, 
warming also my inside. One has to be economical 
these hard times. 

As the light failed the ice began to thicken, and as 
the swell was causing the floes to grind heavily together 
I lay to till daybreak. All night long we heard the 

136 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

moaning and complaining of the grinding floes, a number 
of which, with long underwater tongues, drifted down 
upon us, causing the ship to take some very bad bumps. 
To economize our now much-depleted coal I had given 
Kerr instructions to let the steam fall off, and we had 
to be constantly sheeting home the topsail and pointing 
the yards to get her to fall away from our unpleasant 
neighbours, contact with which might prove dangerous. 

The floes looked very weird in the darkness as they 
surged up on the swell and fell back again into the 
trough of the sea, the water sucking and gurgling 
amongst the cracks and chasms and making the most 
uncanny noises. 

At daybreak on the 24th steam was raised and we 
continued south, pushing through pancake ice which 
contained many heavy floes. Seen from aloft the pan- 
cake formation makes a most beautiful mosaic. Much 
of our finest art is surpassed by Nature, and in these 
southern regions there is much to attract those who have 
an artistic temperament. 

The ice rapidly increased in thickness, and by 
noon we were again held up by dense impenetrable 
pack in position lat. 68° 32' S. and 0° 5' E. long. To 
the south the outlook was hopeless. I climbed to the 
crow's nest to scan the horizon to the southward, but 
saw only closely packed and heavy ice stretching away 
to the horizon, whilst in the sky was a strongly marked 
ice-blink. It was bitterly disappointing. There was no 
alternative but to retrace our steps and work to the west- 
ward. I went below, where once more I pulled out all 
the charts and examined again the records of old ex- 
plorers in these regions. I had a long talk with Worsley 
and Kerr. The season was well advanced; the Quest 

The Ice 137 

had neither the driving power nor the amount of coal 
to enable me to batter hard at heavy floe. As a matter 
of fact, I do not think that any ship, however powerful, 
could have made any impression on the stuff to the south 
of us. As far as finding land in this segment was con- 
cerned I felt that we had shot our bolt. I was, however, 
determined to have another try, and to make Cape Town 
my base, where I could overhaul and refit my ship, where 
there was a big supply of good winter stores and equip- 
ment, and where I could readjust the personnel. I 
intended to make the start early in the season^ and I felt 
confident that with the time to spare to enable us to wait 
for the ice to move we should reach new land. 

My intention was now to make as directly as possible 
for the charted position of " Ross's Appearance of 
Land," the accuracy of which I hoped either to verify 
or to disprove, and to take a series of soundings on the 
spot. We should by that time be very short of coal 
and consequently also in need of ballast. I determined, 
therefore, to call at Elephant Island, where I felt sure 
we would find sea-elephants in sufficient numbers to 
supply us with blubber as fuel. Blubber is by no means 
an ideal form of fuel for the furnace, for it burns with 
a fierce, hot flame and is very messy. Mixed judiciously 
with coal, however, I knew it would materially help to 
spin out the supply. I hoped, also, to be able to take 
aboard a quantity of sand or shingle as ballast. From 
there I proposed proceeding to Deception Island to coal, 
and thence return to South Georgia. 

At this point I must mention that which is not a 
pleasant subject, but one which should not be glossed 
over, because it indicates what is a most important 
feature in the preparation for a polar expedition : the 

138 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

choice of personnel. It is a matter which requires the 
greatest possible care, for one discordant or unadaptable 
spirit can do a vast amount of harm in infecting others. 

There can be no doubt that since leaving South 
Georgia we had had a very wearing time and one which 
tried the temper and patience of all hands. It must be 
admitted that before leaving England the arrangements 
for the comfort of the personnel had in some directions 
been overlooked, and long-continued discomfort is 
bound sooner or later to have an effect upon the temper. 
Life on board ship entails a certain amount of dull 
routine, providing at times an amount of exhausting 
work but very little active exercise. We had experi- 
enced long spells of bad weather, with a large propor- 
tion of dull, grey days and little sunshine. I therefore 
expected and was prepared to find that individuals 
would experience periods of irritability, and that things 
would not always run as smoothly as might be desired. 
The personnel had been selected from men of marked 
individual character, and in order that a body of men 
of this type shall be able to live in absolute harmony 
over a long period of time it is necessary that an out- 
standing quality of each shall be a good " give and 
take " sporting spirit. The effect of one or two selfish 
and discordant natures can easily be understood. There 
was surprisingly little friction amongst the various 
members of the expedition, which is due largely to the 
sound qualities of the nucleus of old, tried men. 

I began to be aware, however, about this time of an 
amount of dissatisfaction and grumbling occurring in 
both the forward and after-messes that I did not like. 
Men who sat at table with me and to a certain extent 
enjoyed my confidence discussed and freely criticized 

The Ice 139 

expedition affairs with members of the after-mess. Of 
this I had ample confirmation. Some of those thus em- 
ployed were officers who from their position on the ship 
should have been my most loyal supporters. In the 
after-mess also I was surprised to find that the men 
affected were those in whom I had placed the most im- - 

plicit trust. It was a condition of things that required ' 
prompt measures. I assembled each mess in turn, and I 
going straight to the point told them that further con- j 
tinuance would be met with the most drastic treatment. i 
I pointed out that although I would at all times welcome j 
suggestions from the officers and scientific staff, and i 
would consider any reasonable complaints, I could \ 
consider no selfish or individual interests, and my own / 
decision must be final and end discussion of the / 

I was glad to notice an immediate improvement. 

On February 25th we passed through a lot of 
loose ice, and in the evening entered a patch of 
heavy, old, deeply stained diatomaceous floes. Scores 
of crab-eater seals lay asleep on them in batches 
of five or six. Passing close to one piece on which 
six were lying in a clump, I laid the ship along- 
side and with my heavy rifle shot them all. I sent 
Macklin, with Douglas and Argles, on to the floe to 
secure them, which is best done by passing a strop round 
the body and tightening it close up under the flippers. 
Having fixed up a block and tackle we hauled them 
aboard — an awkward job on account of the swell in 
which the Quest rolled heavily. In the subsequent 
flensing Douglas jabbed his knee, the knife penetrating 
the joint. The wound itself was small, but Macklin 
insisted on absolute rest until he could be sure that there 

140 Shacklcton's Last Voyage 

was no infection. Carr also cut his finger. These ac- 
cidents were largely due to the movement of the ship, 
which rendered the operation a difficult one. Two in- 
experienced men wielding their knives on the same seal 
are a source of danger to each other, for with the sweep- 
ing strokes employed there is the chance of a mutilating 
cut. I always insisted in cases like this that only one 
man at a time should have a knife in his hand. 

Watts succeeded in getting Greenwich time by wire- 
less from Rio de Janeiro, which enabled us to check our 
chronometers. Long-distance messages were not easily 
obtained owing to bad atmospheric conditions, which 
produce loud noises in the ear-pieces. 

By February 28th, as a result of our depleted 
bunkers, the ship was very light and ill-ballasted. I told 
Worsley to remove from the decks all heavy gear and 
place it below, for which purpose I arranged to clear the 
coal from the forward part of the bunkers and put it aft 
into the side pockets. I divided the men into two work- 
ing parties, one to go down in the morning, consisting of 
Mcllroy, Marr, Macklin and Dell, and one to work in 
the afternoon, of Wilkins, Carr, McLeod and Watts. 
So much vigour did the morning party put into this work, 
however, that at lunch-time there was little for the others 
to do beyond stow the gear from above. 

March ist was another fine day, and we took full 
advantage of it to hang up the spare sails to dry prior to 
placing them below. All hands seized the opportunity 
to put out blankets and bedding for an airing. 

The deck clearance made a wonderful improvement 
to the ship. Unfortunately, it made it necessary that we 
should have the gear up again when we coaled at 
Deception Island. 

The Ice 141 

Worsley obtained a sounding of 2,762 fathoms in 
position lat. 65° 22' S. and 10° \f W. long. 

In the late afternoon we passed a yery curious berg 
composed of a solid mass with a long, upright tooth-like 
portion separated from it on the surface by ten or twenty 
yards of water. Perched on it were several Antarctic 
petrels and one solitary ringed penguin. How the latter 
ever attained its position is a mystery, for the sides of 
the berg were steep and precipitous. 

On Saturday, March 4th, there was a strong north- 
east to easterly wind, with heavy swell, and the motion 
of the Quest was simply awful, so bad, indeed, that in 
spite of our long time at sea several of the party were 
sea-sick. Macklin writes under this date.: 

It has been impossible to stand without holding 
firmly to some support, and movement about the ship 
can only be accomplished by sudden jerks and starts, 
with hurried gropings for something to catch hold of. 
A wet, snowy slush on the deck does not help matters. 
Argles was thrown off his feet and, crashing across the 
deck, fetched up on the other side against a bucket, 
severely bruising face, chest and hands. Meals are a 
screaming comedy or a tragedy, as you like to take 
them ; everything placed on the table promptly charges 
for the scuppers, and fiddles are almost useless. 
Mcllroy, " Kraskie," Kerr and myself were sitting 
on a wooden bench, secured to the floor, holding 
on to plates and spoons, and endeavouring to guide 
some food into our mouths. Suddenly, during 
a particularly violent roll, the bench was torn from 
its fastenings, and we were thrown backwards into the 
lee of the wardroom, intimately mixed with knives. 

142 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

forks, plates and treacle dough. During the evening 
watch Commander Wild was talking to Mick and my- 
self on the bridge when suddenly he shot away into the 
darkness, and a few moments later sounds the reverse 
of complimentary were heard issuing from the end of 
the bridge-house. Ross brought some tea a few 
minutes later, apologizing for having spilled much of 
it en route. He, too, suddenly disappeared in dark- 
ness, and when he next materialized there was less 
tea than ever, but it was a good effort his getting it 
there at all. When I went below I saw Wuzzles try- 
ing to work out his calculations on the wardroom 
table, with first a book, then a pencil or a ruler shoot- 
ing suddenly to the floor. The Quest is a little 
"she-devil," lively as they are made. She has many 
uncomplimentary things said of her, and deserves all 
of them. 

On March 5th we passed within sight of several large 
and beautiful bergs emerging from the Weddell Sea, 
the mouth of which we were now crossing, and met with 
heavier floes than we had hitherto encountered. On the 
9th we ran into broad belts of heavy ice. I took this 
chance of " watering " ship, placing her alongside a floe 
with some solid pieces of blue ice. Owing to the swell 
the ship would not lie comfortably, and so, taking with 
me Macklin, Carr and Douglas, I went off to secure her 
fore and aft. We broke up and passed aboard a con- 
siderable quantity of fresh ice. The men thoroughly 
enjoy a job of this nature and make a great joke of it. 
On this occasion they broke the ice into fragments of 
convenient weight and threw them at Jeffrey, who had 
undertaken to catch them all, subjecting him to a regular 

The Ice 143 

fusillade from which it was all he could do to defend 
himself. On the floe there was a seal which had come 
up to sleep, and we took this also. While this work was 
going on, Worsley took a sounding, finding in position 
lat. 66° 5' S. and 38° 16' W. long., 2,521 fathoms. 

Query came on to the floe, where he took a 
tremendous interest in a killer which was swimming 
about. The killer rose close to the floe and "blew" 
with such a blast that Query tucked in his tail and ran 
for dear life — much to our amusement. 

On Friday, March loth, we encountered still heavier 
belts, and were compelled to take a north-easterly 
direction. In the evening it turned much colder, the 
temperature dropping to 17° Fahr. 

A number of Adelie penguins were seen on the floe. 
Seals were scarce, only one being seen. Snow and 
Antarctic petrels flew about the ship in considerable 

During the night we continued to push in a north- 
easterly direction, meeting very heavy broken-up old 
Weddell Sea floe. The temperature rose again to 
24° Fahr. A strong easterly wind was blowing, with 
snow, which made it difficult to see far in any direction. 

Water was again reported in the hold to the level of 
the kelson, and required three hours' additional pumping 
to reduce. 

At 6.0 P.M. the snow thickened so much that we could 
see nothing, and so lay to for the night. All about we 
heard the cries of Adelie penguins. The wind and snow 
continued all night, but at 4.30 a.m. on the 12th we 
started off again, pushing through thick pack composed 
of heavy old Weddell Sea floe with the water in between 
freezing solidly, making headway difficult. Often during 

144 Shacklcton's Last Voyage 

this period I bemoaned to myself the low driving power 
of the Quest. With the onset of darkness we again lay 
to. During the night Marr, who was now a trustworthy 
seaman, was on the look out. He makes the following 
entry in his diary : " There was no one to talk to and 
all round lay that vast cold wilderness of ice. Never 
in my life have I felt so lonely. . . ." This is indeed a 
feeling which one gets frequently in these regions, 
especially at night — a great sense of loneliness such as 
I have never felt elsewhere. On Monday, March 13th, 
the temperature dropped during the night to 8° Fahr., 
and the sea froze solidly about the ship. In the strong 
wind, with jib and mizen set, there was just enough way 
to keep the ship from being beset. About 4.0 a.m., how- 
ever, she did become fast, but as soon as daylight came 
in we got up steam and proceeded as rapidly as possible. 
The skies cleared beautifully, but the sea continued to 
freeze so swiftly and solidly that we had the greatest 
difficulty in getting ahead, and many times we had to 
back off into our own water to get up sufficient impetus 
to break through. How we got the Quest along at all 
I cannot understand. 

The outlook was very bad. Worsley and I spent 
long hours aloft searching for signs of land in the direc- 
tion of '* Ross's Appearance," but though it was a beauti- 
fully clear day, we could see no indication of it. Ahead 
of us the ice stretched thick and solid as far as we could 
see. Headway became more and more difficult, and soon 
I saw that it would be useless to attempt to push on. A 
sounding showed 2,331 fathoms of water in lat. 64° 11' S. 
and 46° 4' W. long., which did not indicate the proximity 
of land. Owing to the low driving power of the ship I 
could make no impression through the ice ahead, nor 

The Ice 145 

could I afford the coal for prolonged ramming. It 
seemed to me that we were in imminent danger of being 
beset, and I decided that we must push north in the hope 
of meeting more open pack. I had to give up all thought 
of attempting to return to " Ross's Appearance," because 
I was now desperately short of fuel, and unless we could 
get blubber at Elephant Island we should be in a bad 

About us during the day were numerous Adelie 
penguins, occurring in twos and threes, and in a few 
larger clusters of forty or more. None of the floes bear- 
ing the large clusters were accessible to the ship, or I 
would have taken them up, for their skins burn well. 
Crab-eaters were scarce. Seeing two on a floe, with 
about a dozen penguins, we lay alongside. Argles 
jumped off to try and catch one, but in the soft snow 
the penguin had the advantage, and Argles' efforts were 
very amusing to the rest of us. He is an active fellow, 
however, and was at last successful, bringing a squawk- 
ing young Adelie in his arms to the ship, where Query 
paid it marked attention. We killed the rest of them, 
also the seals, and put them aboard the ship. Owing to 
the darkness, we lay to at night in rapidly freezing ice 
with the outlook as regards escape not at all promising, 
and at 4.30 the next morning we raised full pressure of 
steam and attempted to get away. After two hours of 
hard ramming we had made so little headway that I 
gave up the attempt and lay to alongside a floe. By 
breakfast it had become apparent that we were fast, hard 
frozen in. The temperature had dropped to 6.5° Fahr. 
It blew hard all day. Birds with the exception of 
a few snow petrels disappeared early. Macklin says 
of these birds : 

146 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

I always regard the snow petrel as symbolic of 
the Spirit of the Pack, for they are never entirely 
absent, in fair weather or foul. Even in winter when 
all is dark one can hear the gentle " whisp-whisp " 
of their wings as they fly close. Their pure white 
bodies with jet black beak and legs give them a 
beautiful appearance when seen at a distance, but 
when gathered about a piece of offal at closer range, 
there is something unpleasant and almost evil in their 
appearance, with their sinister curved beaks, hard 
bright eyes and pock-toed waddling gait. They are 
seen at their best on a bright clear day with a back- 
ground of blue sky. Like the pack they can give an 
attractive impression or a most unpleasant one. 

Killers were about during the day. 

We were still solidly frozen in on the 15th. A fairly 
strong westerly wind blew with a temperature of 8.5° 
Fahr. The day was bright and clear, and Jeffrey and 
Douglas took theodolite and dip circle on to the floe 
for observations, which were impossible on a moving 
deck. In the morning I put all hands to cleaning up 
the ship and pumping her dry, a process which took two 
hours daily. Whilst engaged in this a killer appeared 
in a small lead which had formed on the port bow, and 
continued to swim slowly backwards and forwards, 
affording us an excellent close view. His motion 
through the water was a marvel of graceful movement, 
but in other respects he was an ugly looking monster, 
with slightly underhung jaw and a small wicked eye 
which gave him a very evil appearance. His back and 
flanks were covered with large brown-coloured patches, 
probably parasitic. I called Marr's attention to him; 

The Ice 147 

he remarked that it did not make him feel inclined to 
fall overboard. 

At noon Worsley got an observation of the sun and 
worked out a position which showed a drift of eighteen 
miles in direction N. 43^ E. This was very encourag- 
ing, for I knew that if it continued we should not be 
long in reaching a point at which the floe would begin 
to open up and give us a chance to get away. A sound- 
ing gave 2,321 fathoms in lat. 63° 51' S. and 45° 13' W. 
long. The steam pipe of the sounding machine froze, 
so that Dell was unable to get in the wire, which was 
left all night in the hope of getting it in next morning. 
By daylight, however, the ship had altered her position 
relative to the hole in the ice by about fifty yards and 
the wire was as taut as a harp string. I made an effort 
to clear it with an ice-axe, but did not succeed in doing 
so. This single sounding wire held the weight of the 
ship, maintaining it and the floe in the same relative 
positions for forty-eight hours before finally parting. It 
was not subjected to any jerking strain, but this test says 
much for its strength. 

We remained frozen in till March 21st. At times 
I felt very anxious, for with the lateness of the season, 
failing light and shortage of coal, I realized that our 
position might turn out to be a very awkward one. In- 
deed things looked so bad on the sixth day that I made 
up my mind that we might remain a long time before 
breaking free, and told Macklin, in dealing with the 
issue of stores and equipment, to have in mind the 
possibility of wintering. I had taken care to provision 
the ship with a view to this eventuality, but it would have 
necessitated the most rigid economy and a much more 
monotonous dietary than we had hitherto enjoyed, for 

148 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

it must be remembered that the bulk of our equipment 
was awaiting us in Cape Town. I did not, however, 
mention the possibility to the men, for they seemed quite 
to enjoy the break from routine, and I did not wish their 
minds to be occupied with any sort of gloomy forebod- 
ings. I encouraged them to amuse themselves in any 
way they could by taking walks out over the floes and 
by playing football. They were not slow to avail them- 
selves of the opportunity. On one occasion I watched 
Douglas, Argles, Carr and Macklin earnestly engaged 
in a strange pastime, which more resembled a free fight 
than anything, and consisted of flinging themselves at 
one another and grappling and wrestling fiercely in 
the snow. At the finish they all bore marks of the 
contest, Douglas with an eye that threatened closure 
within a few days. They informed me that they 
had been playing American football, and said they 
enjoyed it ! 

'* Soccer " was the favourite game. I frequently 
joined in, as did Worsley, whose fiftieth birthday we 
had celebrated a short while before, but who was by no 
means the least active. The games were marked by 
many amusing incidents. On one occasion Naisbitt 
while chasing the ball sank suddenly from view through 
a hole in the ice, from which he was promptly rescued, 
soon to be covered with a coating of icicles. On another 
day we were visited by a small Adelie penguin which 
spotted us from a floe some distance away, and came 
running as fast as his short legs would carry him to 
join in the game. What he thought of it all I do not 
know, but he insisted on taking an active part, neglect- 
ing the ball and fiercely attacking with beak and flippers 
any man who came near. Query took a great interest 

The Ice 149 

in the visitor, but was fiercely repulsed when he showed 
too marked an inquisitiveness. In the ordinary way 
too inquisitive penguins pay for their temerity with their 
lives and go to swell the larder, but this little fellow 
showed such pluck and sportiveness that we let him 
go free. He waddled off to join his companions, to 
whom, no doubt, he would spin the most marvellous 

In honour of our two Irishmen, Jeffrey and Mcllroy, 
we celebrated St. Patrick's Day with a specially good 
dinner, for which Green had produced some shamrock- 
shaped scones tied up with green ribbon. I was also 
able to produce some cigars and a bottle which we 
cracked for the occasion. 

On the 1 8th Worsley and Wilkins put down a dredge 
with reversing thermometer attached. At first steam 
was used for heaving up, but this proving very slow we 
fell back on man power. It was hard work, but the men, 
as they always do on these occasions, threw themselves 
into it with a will, and we soon brought it to the surface. 
We obtained fifty-seven specimens of quartzite, tuffs, 
etc. There was no living matter, but the rocks were 
filled with worm cells. 

The next day we were closely invested by dense 
pack, composed of heavy old pressure floes. On one 
was a huge sea-leopard which I shot with my heavy rifle. 
With the assistance of Worsley, Douglas and Watts I 
brought it in to the ship, where Wilkins claimed head 
and skin as specimens. 

Later in the day I went with a party composed of 
Worsley, Mcllroy, Kerr, Carr and Macklin to look at 
a berg, distant four or five miles from the ship. It was 
a bright morning and we much enjoyed the walk. The 

150 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

ice was very treacherous, and we had to proceed care- 
fully from floe to floe, making many wide detours. 

On the morning of the 20th the outlook was bad, for 
we were closely beset on all sides, and the clouds to the 
north showed no signs of *' water sky." The tempera- 
ture was 10° Fahr., and the new ice was freezing more 
thickly than ever. Macklin, Carr and Marr set off to 
visit a large berg which appeared on the horizon. They 
thought they were making wonderfully good progress 
till it became evident that the berg was moving rapidly 
towards them, charging heavily through the floe, throw- 
ing aside fragments which lay in its path and leaving 
a wide lane of open water behind it. I watched it 
anxiously as, travelling at from two to three miles an 
hour, it approached the ship, and I feared that we might 
be involved in pressure as a result of the displacement 
of floes about it. To my relief, however, it passed about 
three-quarters of a mile astern of us and finally disap- 
peared over the horizon to the northward. There was 
something awe-inspiring about this huge structure as it 
moved inexorable and undeviating on its path, relent- 
lessly crushing and pushing aside the smaller structures 
which sought to impede its progress. 

In the evening there was a marked change in the 
weather. The temperature rose to 14.5° Fahr., and the 
day became more dull and grey. From the crow's nest 
I could see a distinct water sky to the northward. 

I was up at daybreak on March 21st and climbed to 
the mast-head to scan carefully the horizon to the north- 
ward for signs of opening up of the ice. There was a 
heavy black water sky, and as daylight increased I could 
distinguish fairly open and easily navigable pack. Un- 
fortunately, between us and it were three miles of dense 

I'Jioto: ^port cr' ucnciai 



The Ice 151 

heavy floe solidly cemented by a foot of new ice. An 
irregular line of weakness ran through the heavy floe 
towards the now open pack, about half a mile distant 
from the ship. I thought that if I could cut my way 
into this a hard and determined effort might succeed 
in getting us free or at any rate into a more favourable 
position for escape should the ice about us begin to open 
up. I had to consider very carefully whether to make 
the effort or not, for the coal supply was such that we 
could not afford a day's hard steaming with no tangible 

Accompanied by Macklin I walked across the ice to 
examine this line of weakness more closely. It did not 
look promising and I cogitated for some time as to what 
to do. While we were walking back a crack opened in 
the new ice ahead of the ship. It presented a chance 
and I determined to take it. I gave orders for all hands 
to stand to, and told Kerr to get up full pressure of 
steam so that at any minute he could give the engines 
every ounce they would stand. He accomplished this 
very quickly, but before I had time to get under way 
a large, solid, heavy floe had turned across our bows and 
was completely blocking the lead. The full pressure of 
the engines could make no impression. I sent Macklin 
over the side with an ice anchor, and put all hands to 
warping her ahead. After a long effort we effected a 
turning movement of the floe, and the Quest, being able 
to insert her bow as a wedge, slowly but surely forced 
her way into the lead. 

After some hard ramming and pushing at the floes we 
reached the line of weakness, to find that the most diffi- 
cult part of our work lay before us. For a long time, 
in spite of tremendous efforts, we made little headway. 

152 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

We persisted, however, and after several hours of hard 
ramming and squeezing our way between heavy floes we 
won at last into loose pack, and soon after into com- 
paratively open water. It was a great relief to me to 
get away. Had we remained frozen in till mid-winter 
and the ship been involved in heavy pressure our 
position would have been a precarious one, for there 
would have been little daylight to enable us to see 
what was happening, and there would have been 
long hours of darkness in which to contend with the 
heaving pack. 

Throughout the whole period that we were navigat- 
ing about the pack edge, I was constantly made to feel 
how extremely fortunate we were to have escaped un- 
scathed from the ice after the loss of the Endurance. 
That we got away at all is truly marvellous, for not once 
in a dozen times could a frail ship's boat win free under 
similar circumstances where the floes, coming together, 
must have cracked her like an eggshell. 

For a while I continued north, entering all the time 
a more and more open sea dotted all about with bergs 
and large solitary pieces of floe. 

The day after leaving the pack we encountered 
heavy swell, which caused the Quest, with her empty 
bunkers, to pitch and roll in the most uncomfortable 
manner. Decks, rails and running gear became iced 
up with sprays which broke over her gunwale and 
froze solidly, necessitating the greatest care in moving 

At night I could not distinguish white horses from 
growlers, and so took in sail and lay to. I sent McLeod 
and Macklin aloft to take in the topsail, which they 
found an unpleasant job on account of the treacherous 

The Ice 153 

condition of the rigging, which was ice-covered and 
slippery, and the jerky movement of the ship. 

We continued on at daybreak encountering a few 
bergs but no floe ice. There was a heavy swell from 
the east-south-east, and though the wind seemed to have 
dropped a little squalls of great violence continued to 
pass over us. On this day we reached the maximum of 
discomfort, and though the men maintained their cheer- 
fulness I see now from some of the diaries that it must 
have cost an effort : 

It has been another unpleasant day with all the 
discomforts of yesterday accentuated, the ship rolling 
just as heavily and all gear more thickly coated with 
ice, which is hanging in festoons and stalactites from 
every possible place. Sprays have been flying over all 
day and everything in the ship is damp. There is no 
comfort anywhere except in one's bunk, and even 
there it is all one can do to prevent being thrown out. 
On the bridge to-day Commander Wild remarked : 
" The man who comes down here for the sake of ex- 
perience is mad ; the man who comes twice is beyond 
all hope; while as for the man who comes five times 
(himself) " Words failed him. 

Poor Query is utterly miserable; he cannot get 
a minute's rest anywhere. Nor can any of us. Yester- 
day I caught my thumb in the jackstay, and it is so 
swollen and tender that to touch anything gives me 
agony. This beastly motion makes me sea-sick — I 
am full of sorrows to-day. We are getting near to 
Elephant Island, the home of all foul winds that 
blow — what crazy impulse sent me again to these 
abandoned regions.? (writes Macklin). 

154 ShackIeton*s Last Voyage 

Indeed at this stage of the voyage it took all our 
fortitude to keep up our spirits. We again hove to for 
the night, and the gale increasing in violence we lay to 
all next day. 

It moderated about midnight of the 24th, and we set 
off under topsail only in the direction of Elephant and 
Clarence Islands. 





A Sea-elephant on Elephant Island 

Photos : IVilktns 



THE wind hauling ahead about 6.30 a.m. on 
March 25th we took in sail and under steam pro- 
ceeded south-west by south in the direction of Clarence 
Island. We got a sight of it at 7.35 a.m., but 
snow flurries obscured it again. About midday the 
weather cleared v/hen both it and Elephant Island 
showed up distinctly. It is hard to describe the memories 
which these two islands revived for those of us who took 
part in the Endurance expedition. Readers of Sir 
Ernest Shackleton's " South " will find a description of 
our arrival and landing — the first landing to be made 
on Elephant Island. We stood gazing through bino- 
culars picking out old familiar landmarks, each one 
reminiscent of some incident that came rushing back to 
the memory. There was Cornwallis Island, the shape 
of which was so familiar, and beyond it Cape Valentine, 
where we landed eight years ago, a haggard, worn-out 
and bedraggled party, rejoicing at the sight of firm, 
solid land, the first we had seen for nearly two years. 
We had just spent eight days and nights in the boats 
battling with ice, darkness and storm, toiling unceasingly 
at the oars with brief spells of the most fitful slumber. 
There our old Boss, whose indomitable will had over- 
come every obstacle and surmounted each difficulty as 
it arose, lay down on the shingle and had his first sleep 
for eight days — slept for eighteen hours without a wink ! 


156 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

In the distance we could see Castle Rock, unmistak- 
able from its peculiar shape, and beyond it we knew 
lay Cape Wild, though invisible just now. There I 
wintered with my party while the Boss went for help, 
living hand to mouth on penguins, limpets and seaweed. 
From a sentimental point of view this was the place I 
wished to visit more than any other, but I knew only 
too well that it did not provide a good anchorage, and 
I was anxious while the weather was favourable to find 
a suitable place for ballasting the ship and obtaining 
sea-elephants for their blubber. We therefore set 
course to pass between the two islands and along the 
south-eastern side of Elephant Island. 

As evening approached there was a wonderful 
mirage. Looking to the south-west we saw a number 
of large icebergs poised high above the horizon in a 
sky of the purest gold, whilst all about and in between 
them were numerous whales spouting. These mirages 
are by no means uncommon in these latitudes, but this 
was by far the most extraordinary I have ever seen in 
any part of the world, and certainly the most beautiful. 
Later on the sun sank with a peculiar effect — both Clar- 
ence and Elephant Islands seemed to be afire, a rosy 
glare rising from each of them to the sky. Over Cape 
Wild lay a reddish-golden glow and the whole appear- 
ance of the island was beautiful, giving an impression 
of the most peaceful calm. Any ship passing the island 
on that evening would have carried away a very wrong 
idea of the place, and I am sure that many of our party 
who had listened to our unqualified, or perhaps I should 
say much qualified, descriptions of our sojourn here must 
have thought we were rather drawing the long bow. 
However, they were soon to learn differently. 

Elephant Island 157 

During the night we had kept a safe margin between 
ourselves and the shore, but with the advent of daylight 
we stood in more closely and kept a sharp look out for 
possible anchorages and suitable spots for our purpose. 
We saw none on this side of the island, which presents 
nothing but steep mountainous rocks and sheer glacier 
faces. As we approached Cape Lookout at the south- 
western end of the island we saw a small spit lying 
between two high rocks. The wind was blowing from 
the west-north-west and this seemed to offer a shelter. 
We approached cautiously, sounding continuously with 
the hand lead. As we drew near I looked carefully 
through binoculars for signs of sea-elephants. Penguins 
were present in large numbers, but I saw no sign of 
larger game, and I was not altogether pleased with the 
place as an anchorage. I therefore decided to turn 
round Cape Lookout and look for a better place on the 
western coast. Once round, however, we met strong 
head winds against which we could make little headway, 
and the coast did not promise anything better, so we 
returned to the spit and came to anchor in five fathoms. 
The surf boat was lowered and I went ashore with 
Wilkins, Mcllroy, Macklin, Carr, Kerr and Douglas. 
As we approached the spit I saw several seals and sea- 
elephants ashore, but they did not seem to be in suffi- 
cient numbers for my purpose. There was little surf 
on the beach and landing proved easy. Wilkins and 
Douglas went off on their respective jobs, and I landed 
Macklin and Kerr with instructions to reconnoitre and 
look for seals and sea-elephants, but on no account to 
scare away those which were present. I went back with 
Mcllroy and Carr to the ship to bring off more hands. 
On the return trip I landed on a narrow strip of beach 

158 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

overhung by a large glacier which abutted on the north- 
west end of the spit, and with Mcllroy and some others 
walked along it to where the sea-elephants lay. This 
is a practice I do not often adopt, for one never knows 
at what moment these glaciers may calve, sending down 
masses of many tons' weight on to the beach below. 
However, nothing happened and we crossed safely. 

The landing-place in its essential features closely 
resembles Cape Wild, being composed of a narrow low- 
lying spit connecting the main island with an outstand- 
ing rock. This, again, is separated from another higher 
outlying rock by a channel through which the seas surge 
with some force. At the inner end of the spit is a high 
shoulder of rock which bounds the glacier on this side, 
whilst on the far side of it is another similar shoulder. 
The main part of the island seems to be much more 
accessible than it is at Cape Wild, but the place seemed 
to be no more suitable as a site for a permanent camp, 
for there were signs that the spit is at times sea swept, 
and it is equally unsheltered from strong winds. 

Penguins were present in large numbers. There 
were two varieties, ringed and gentoo, which had segre- 
gated into two camps, the ringed occupying the outer 
rock whilst the gentoos collected together on the inner 
buttress. The former, which derive their name from a 
thin but clearly defined ring round the throat, are quaint, 
deliberate little animals which show not the least fear of 
man. They are the most wonderful climbers and form 
their rookeries in the most inaccessible places, often on 
the faces of steep and precipitous rocks where the foot- 
ing is very precarious. After coming in from their 
fishing it often takes them hours to reach their final 
positions, but they show extraordinary patience and per- 

Elephant Island 159 

severance as they hop from ledge to ledge and from one 
small foothold to another. They are often to be seen 
on the slopes of large icebergs out at sea. The gentoo 
is a larger, more brightly coloured bird, with orange beak 
and legs, and has a small white patch over each eye 
which gives it a curiously inane expression. It is more 
shy of man than any other of the Antarctic penguins, 
and when chased can travel at quite good speed and 
dodge cleverly. As we came up a number of both kinds 
were stalking slowly and solemnly along the beach. 
Amongst them moved little pigeon-like paddy birds 
{Chionis alba) which look very pretty at a distance, but 
at close vision are seen to have very ugly heads and 
beaks. They darted about with little quick steps and, 
like the penguins, watched us curiously, no doubt 
wondering what strange new creatures we might be. 
Dominican gulls, skuas and Cape pigeons flew all about 
the place, and numbers of blue-eyed shags perched on 
rocks close to the sea or, with necks outstretched and 
stiff as ramrods, flew with an intent air to their fishing 
in the bay. 

I walked across the spit to find a beach on the other 
side leading down to a small bay. My mind was im- 
mediately set at rest regarding our blubber requirements, 
for, lying about in the shelter of rocks and large pieces 
of stranded glacier ice, were a number of seals and sea- 
elephants, including three enormous bulls, each of which 
weighed many tons, whilst on a strip of beach on the far 
side of the little bay was a large harem of cows. I shot 
those on the spit and set all hands to the flensing. I 
have a mind-picture of my men : Mcllroy, Kerr, Carr 
and Macklin busily plying their knives, arms bare to 
the shoulders and red with blood. Soon the place 

i6o Shackleton's Last Voyage 

resembled a shambles. I loathed having to slaughter 
all these creatures, but the matter was one of the direst 
necessity, and I had to put aside any feelings of senti- 
ment. I have never at any time countenanced the un- 
necessary taking of life, and whenever it has been 
necessary to kill I have always insisted that it should be 
done in the most humane way possible, and that steps 
would be taken to ensure that no wounded animal should 

The blubber was removed in large strips from the 
carcasses, and a party led by Jeffrey dragged it over the 
beach to the edge of the water. Another party secured 
it to lines and towed it out to the ship. 

Whilst the flensing was in process a curious incident 
occurred. I had given orders for a dozen penguins to 
be killed. One gentoo, in taking flight, had splashed 
through a small pool of blood and came out with white 
waistcoat dyed a vivid red. He went to rejoin his fellows 
on the hill, but they, failing to recognize him in his new 
colourings, pecked at him so viciously that he at last 
drew away and went off, to stand disconsolate and soli- 
tary at the head of the beach. Some little while later 
Watts, who had not witnessed the incident, suddenly 
exclaimed with much excitement, " Look, there's a new 
species of penguin ! Quick ! Somebody help me to 
catch him ! '* Taking pity on the penguin's outcast 
condition I drove him into the sea, from which he 
returned clean and white, once more a normal penguin. 
This time his friends received him without comment. 

I pushed on energetically with the work, for I feared 
a change of weather, my previous sojourn here having 
taught me never under any circumstances to trust 
Elephant Island. In the late afternoon the wind came 


Fhotos : Dr. Macklin 

rhoto: Wilkins 


Elephant Island i6i 

round to the south-cast, and a swell began to come into 
the anchorage. I kept the men at it as long as possible, 
but at last such a surf started running on to the beach 
that I was compelled to take them from the flensing 
and put all hands to getting the blubber aboard. Before 
leaving I took off also a load of glacier ice for melting 
down to water. It was as well that I stopped the work 
when I did, for the surf increased so rapidly that we 
had the greatest difficulty in getting away the last few 
boatloads, and in assisting to push out from the shore 
I got soaked to the waist with the icy cold water. Some 
hours elapsed before I was able to change into dry 
clothes and my legs became absolutely benumbed. 

On returning to the ship I found that Worsley was 
growing very uneasy and was anxious to get away before 
darkness set in, so as soon as the boat was up we heaved 
anchor and proceeded out to sea. 

Just as we were leaving the glacier fired a salute in 
the form of an enormous mass of ice, which fell with a 
reverberating crash on to the narrow beach below and, 
entering the sea, caused a large wave to come out 
towards us. I was glad that it had not happened earlier 
in the day whilst we were walking underneath it. This 
was the source of the pieces which we collected from 
the spit. Some of them are of great bulk and weight, 
and, with the erratic boulders which also are of great 
size, give an indication of the force of gales which blow 
in these regions, and show clearly that at certain seasons 
of the year the spit is so sea-swept as to be untenable 
by any temporary structure which might be set up there. 
These pieces of ice, except when salt encrusted, are 
crystal clear in appearance, and when melted down form 
the purest of water. When we were living at Cape 

i62 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

Wild we used to be very fastidious about our ice. It 
was the one thing about which we could afford to be 

During the night of the 26-2 7th we kept well out 
from the coast to avoid outlying rocks, of which we had 
seen a number when we rounded Cape Lookout. When 
morning broke we stood up for the north-westerly point 
of the island, keeping a close look out for Table Bay 
or any other harbour which would afford a good anchor- 
age. The reports of whalers speak of a large bay in this 
locality with safe anchorage, where the landing is good, 
where seals, sea-elephants, penguins and all sorts of 
seabirds abound, and where tussock grass grows luxuri- 
antly. It was a common expression amongst the 
marooned party at Cape Wild to say : " If we could 
only reach Table Bay ! " We talked of the things we 
would do when we got there. I remember that one man 
(Greenstreet') had sketched an elaborate plan which 
made all our mouths water. He was going to kill a 
seal and, having removed its entrails, fill it up with 
penguins similarly prepared. The seal was to be 
covered with stones and a blubber fire kindled on the 
top. The cooking was to last a whole day, at the end 
of which we were to eat not the seal but the penguins, 
which had thus lost none of their own juices but received 
those of the seal as well. Can you not imagine us sit- 
ting with tightened belts listening to the proposal, with 
our mouths watering at the very prospect ? 

We were never able to make the attempt to get there, 
and it is perhaps as well that we did not do so, for on 
this occasion we saw no signs of anything resembling 
the paradise we had so fondly pictured. There are 

* First oiBcer of the Endurance. 

Elephant Island 163 

places at the north-west end of the island where a land- 
ing could be effected, but the coastline is composed 
largely of rocky bluffs and sheer glacier faces, some of 
them of immense size. 

We started, therefore, to cruise in a north-easterly 
direction, and sighted a narrow beach some miles in 
length running along the foot of steep mountains. On 
the beach were several harems of sea-elephants, each 
containing as many as forty cows. Jeffrey, Wilkins and 
Douglas wished to go ashore to carry on their scientific 
work, and I thought this a good chance to get some more 
blubber. I had contracted a chill as a result of my pro- 
longed soaking in the cold water, so I sent Macklin 
ashore with McLeod, Marr and Young to deposit the 
scientists and bring off in addition to the blubber some 
meat for cooking. I gave Macklin a revolver with which 
to dispatch the seals, and he took with him also a B.S.A. 
airgun in the hope of obtaining some paddy birds, which 
make very dainty fare. 

Shortly after midday I noticed a change in the 
weather and with the steam Whistle signalled to the party 
to return. This they did, bringing a small but useful 
addition to our supply of blubber and some paddies. 

We killed in all nine sea-elephants and about the 
same number of seals. There were many hundreds 
which we did not molest. I found on my return to 
England that a report had been published in which it 
was suggested that we had slaughtered all the sea- 
elephants on Elephant Island. As a result some alarm 
was felt by the directors of the Natural History Museum 
at South Kensington that these animals were in danger 
of extinction, and without any reference to me a protest 
was published to that effect. 

i64 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

I can only repeat what I have already said : that I 
have always set my face against unnecessary killing. In 
all the expeditions in which I have taken part I have 
n€ver seen a case of wanton destruction of any animal. 
I believe that amongst explorers as a class there is much 
greater sympathy for animal life generally, and especi- 
ally for those types which they have known in the natural 
state, than exists amongst those who know them only as 
stuffed specimens. I may add, however, that had it 
been a matter of saving the life of any one member 
of my party I would unhesitatingly have ordered the 
slaughter of every sea-elephant I could find. Without 
wishing to labour the point I think the following taken 
from Macklin's journal may be of interest : 

I do not know how to explain the attraction of 
this life ... it is certainly more primitive . . . one 
meets Nature on more familiar terms and learns to 
love her and all her works. One feels drawn into 
much closer companionship with the lower animals, 
though I am not sure that the word " lower " is always 
correct. ... I have no doubt that what I have written 
is so much Greek to the town-dwellers. One cannot 
explain — these things are '' felt " and are not to be 
learned from a book. . . . The English natural history 
museums are such hopeless failures ; at any rate, in so 
far as they attempt to instil a love of Nature. They 
are so gloomy, and the stuffed, unnatural creatures in 
glass cases are to me positively revolting. I believe 
every healthy boy gets the same impression and comes 
from them into the fresh air with a feeling of 
" escape." This surely is bad. 

My first visit to the Natural History Museum of 

Elephant Island 165 

New York brought me a revelation. The building 
itself is a bright, well-lighted place and contains 
things of the most absorbing interest beautifully set 
up. In the hall the whole history of polar exploration 
is set out on two immense half-globes; there is the 
sledge taken by Peary to the North Pole and the one 
used by Amundsen in his race for the South Pole. 
The specimens are wonderful and the setting of them 
is the work of artists who know their job, for every- 
thing is lifelike and natural. In a snow-covered 
forest glade there are timber wolves on the prowl after 
game, flamingoes stand amongst the reeds in a swamp 
where the muddy ripples seem almost to move, one 
can gaze into tree-tops and see monkeys on the swing 
from branch to branch, reptiles swarm about a pool of 
water in a tropical forest, and there are other examples 
too numerous to mention. It is a place where boys 
stand fascinated, and one to which they return again 
and again. . . . 
Space forbids the full entry, though much of which 
he writes is interesting and very true, for once wedded 
to Nature there is no divorce — separate from her you 
may and hide yourself amongst the flesh-pots of London, 
but the wild will keep calling and calling for ever in 
your ears. You cannot escape the " little voices." 
They're calling from the wilderness, the vast and god-like spaces, 
The stark and sullen solitudes that sentinel the Pole. 

I now set off along the coast in the direction of Cape 
Wild, and about 4.0 p.m. came in sight of the large rock 
lying at the end of the spit. We picked out many old 
familiar marks about the place. The weather was look- 
ing very unsettled and I decided not to attempt a nearer 
approach before darkness, but to lie off for the night. 

i66 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

Just before dusk the wind increased, blowing up strongly 
from direction north-west by west, and many nasty willy- 
waughs came gustily down the glaciers from the hills. 
Worsley suggested spending the night under the 
shelter of Seal Rocks, to which I assented, and we 
crept up under their lee, feeling our way carefully 
with the hand lead, finally coming to anchor in eight 

Seal Rocks is the name given to a group of very 
barren islets lying about a mile from the northern coast 
of Elephant Island. They are covered on the northern 
side with lichen, the only form of vegetable life which 
exists in these regions. They are the resting-place of a 
number of seabirds, and penguins go there after their 
fishing to sleep and digest their food. Our berth was 
by no means a comfortable one, for the rocks are not 
large and give a very imperfect shelter from the winds, 
whilst in addition there are round about them a number 
of small ledges and submerged rocks, the proximity of 
which caused me no little anxiety. I was very anxious, 
however, to revisit Cape Wild, as were all those who had 
wintered wifh me there, and I hoped that the weather 
might moderate by daybreak. 

I was feeling a little feverish as a result of my chill 
and turned in early, having arranged that a careful 
watch was to be kept, and having given instructions to 
be called in the event of anything untoward happening. 
Macklin relieved Jeffrey at midnight, the latter telling 
him that both wind and sea were increasing, and advising 
him to call me at once should he get the least bit uneasy. 
This he did at about 12.30 a.m., to say that we seemed 
to be dragging anchor and asking me to come on deck. 
I got up at once. The wind had come round to the 

Elephant Island 167 

south-west, so that we were no longer in a lee and the 
sea had risen considerably. The rocks showed up in- 
distinctly as black masses against scudding clouds. I 
perceived that we could not stay there any longer, so at 
once called out the hands and rang the engine-room 
telegraph for full steam in the boilers. 

We started to get up anchor right away, but as we 
shortened cable the ship began to drag more rapidly, 
and as there was little sea room I began to fear that we 
might foul some of the rocks or ledges before we could 
get clear. I kept her going ahead with the engines, but 
to add to the awkwardness of the situation the cable 
fouled in the chain locker, so that the incoming links 
would not enter the spurling pipes but, piling on deck, 
jammed the winch. I ordered Macklin and Carr to jump 
below, taking with them a heavy maul and a chain hook 
to break open the chain locker and free the cable. 
Worsley had by this time joined me on the bridge, and 
we had some anxious moments as we waited for the 
signal that all was clear, peering through the darkness 
to where a seething line of breakers indicated sunken 
rocks and reefs. From the darkness we heard the weird 
" jackass " call of the gentoo penguin, like a wild 
lament for a ship in peril — fitting properly the stormy 

At last the cable was freed, we brought home the 
anchor and were able to steam away without damage 
from our unpleasant neighbours. All the time the wind 
rose. For a while I steamed east, hoping to be able to 
hang on, for I was loath to give up the landing at Cape 
Wild and we were not yet properly ballasted. In a 
short time, however, the gale had increased to hurricane 
force and such a steep sea started running that I could 

i68 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

think of nothing but the safety of the ship, and so ran 
away before the storm. 

Dawn broke on a stormy scene, and our last view of 
Elephant Island, seen through the driving spume astern 
of us, was a very different one from the calm and 
beautiful appearance with which we were greeted on the 
day of our arrival. I had hoped with the coming of 
light to be able to get under the lee of Elephant Island, 
but to have attempted to put our now light and un- 
ballasted ship across these seas would have been fatal. 

I had to make up my mind at once as to what course 
to adopt. We had in the bunkers sufficient coal for one 
day's steaming which, mixed with sea-elephant blubber, 
might be made to spin out three or four days. To beat 
back to Elephant Island was therefore out of the ques- 
tion. My chief object in making for Deception Island 
had been to obtain the coal necessary to take the ship 
to South Georgia, and, even under the most favourable 
circumstances, I should have had against me the strong 
current which runs out of Bransfield Strait. The hurri- 
cane, though driving me away from the desired landing 
at Cape Wild, was fair for South Georgia, and under 
single topsail, with fires banked and the engines stopped, 
we were making better progress than the Quest had ever 
accomplished before. Mcllroy reported that he could 
see no sign of change of wind for some days, though 
a falling off in force might be expected. This was just 
what we required. I decided, therefore, to make direct 
for South Georgia under sail, reserving the fuel to enable 
me to steam round the island and take the ship into 
harbour. I called all hands to set the squaresail, which 
was coiled in a frozen mass on the top of the deck-house. 
This was covered with a thick, smooth coating of ice on 

Elephant Island 169 

which no one could keep a footing. We were com- 
pelled to clamber up the stays and seize the right moment 
to let go so that the roll would shoot us across to the 
loresail gaff, to which we clung desperately with one 
hand while we used the other to free the sail. The 
Quest rolled and pitched in the liveliest manner. 
Wilkins, in casting off a frozen lashing, lost his grip 
and I saw a form shoot to leeward and disappear. A 
voice behind me shouted in my ear, " Wilkie's gone ! " 
and indeed there seemed no doubt that he had fallen 
overboard. No attempt to pick him up was possible, 
for no boat could have pulled back into these enormous 
breaking seas, and in any case to have broached the ship 
to would have meant losing the masts and probably the 
ship as well. It was with tremendous relief that I 
saw Wilkins appear some minutes after and go to the 
halliards. He told me later that he had shouted that he 
was all right, but the sound of his voice was swept away 
by the violent wind. He had grabbed the backstay and 
fallen to the deck, fortunately without damage. 

We swigged home the squaresail and felt the ship 
lurch and stagger under its influence, but it increased 
our speed and enabled us to put the miles behind us. 
We tore through the water, which bore down on our 
stern as though to overwhelm us and passed sizzling and 
hissing along our sides. We were swept continually. 
One heavy sea, coming over our stern, fell with a smash 
on the poop, carried away the after-scuttle, broke the 
skylights and filled the after-cabin with several feet of 
water. Dell, McLeod and Marr immediately set to to 
repair the damage with temporary structures, which 
would at least be watertight. Dell and McLeod were 
required for another job, and Marr carried on alone. 

170 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

The work was difficult and extremely unpleasant. The 
seas kept coming over the stern, compelling him to grab 
some support to prevent being swept forward with the 
wash. He was soaked from head to foot, the water 
freezing and casing him in a solid suit of ice. I kept a 
watchful eye on him. He stuck gamely to his work 
and made an excellent job of it. If he is a product of 
Boy Scout training it says much for the organization. I 
warn Sir Robert Baden-Powell that he will find himself 
hard put to it to " skin alive " this hefty young seaman.* 

We continued running all day and kept the sail on 
throughout the night. 

On March 29th the wind abated a little, but it still 
continued to blow a full gale. The seas had not gone 
down and the Quest was thrown about like a plaything 
of the ocean, so that the man at the wheel had his work 
cut out to maintain the course and prevent her from 
broaching-to. I hung on, however, for we were making 
good progress in the right direction and saving coal. 

We had irrevocably cut ourselves off from any chance 
of seeing our old winter quarters at Cape Wild, which 
was a great disappointment to us all, especially to 
Mcllroy, who in the excitement of the rescue had left 
behind his diary. It was wrapped up in an oilskin cover- 
ing and he had great hopes of recovering it. One writer 
says in his diary : 

This is a great disappointment, but one meets 
many in this kind of work, and it is no good making a 
moan about them. ... I would like to have got there 
all the same (he adds irrelevantly). 

^ Referring to a telegram sent by Sir Robert Baden-Powell to Sir Ernest 
Shackleton just as we were leaving England to the effect that if the Scouts 
did not serve him well he would " skin them alive " on their return. 

Elephant Island 171 

The rest of the run to South Georgia was not marked 
by any outstanding incident. On the 30th we saw a 
school of piebald porpoises, and Worsley reported seeing 
a " blackfish " about four feet in length, which leapt 
several times out of the water. Numerous birds tailed 
in our wake, increasing daily in numbers till we reached 
South Georgia. The winds dropped a little, but con- 
tinued to blow freshly from the west-south-west on to 
our port quarter, enabling us to set all sail. The noon 
observation on the 31st showed a run of 197 miles. This 
was the Quest's record, and was made without use of the 
engines. On the same day we were struck by an enor- 
mous breaking sea which almost broached us to and half 
filling the foresail dropped in a deluge on the deck- 
house, pouring in through the ventilators and flooding 
the cabins and wardroom. Much of it found its way 
through the main hatch, which is in the wardroom, and 
wetted many things in the hold. As we approached South 
Georgia we noticed about the ship a number of small 
seabirds somewhat resembling puffins, with short tail 
feathers and a very quick movement of the wings in 
flight. Worsley recognized them as " the same little 
flippity-flip-flop short-tailed birds that flew round the 
boat and annoyed the Boss so much," referring to Sir 
Ernest Shackleton's historic boat journey from Elephant 
Island to South Georgia during the last expedition. 

On April 3rd we were in the vicinity of South 
Georgia and expected to make a landfall about dark. 
Worsley, who had not been able for some days to get 
an observation of the sun, was unable to pick up the 
island and we lay off all night. A number of soundings 
was taken. A large school of whales surrounded the 
ship and we could hear their " blowing " all about. 

172 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

April 4th was also thick and hazy, and Worsley made 
a traversing cruise looking for the island, the proximity 
of which was indicated by the presence of birds, which 
we saw in hundreds with many young ones. In the 
afternoon the fog cleared and we caught sight of land, 
which we made for under steam. Night coming on, 
however, we stood off till daybreak. 

At dawn on the 5th we recognized Anenkov Island, 
and decided to make for Leith Harbour round the north 
end of South Georgia. 

During the afternoon we saw several steam whalers, 
a welcome sight after having had the world to ourselves 
for so long. At night there was a fine sunset, and out- 
lined against the rosy horizon to the westward these little 
steamers made a very pretty picture. 

We entered Leith Harbour at daybreak on April 6th 
and moored to the buoy. Scarcely had we made fast 
when we saw the motor-boat coming off with the familiar 
figure of Mr. Hansen and another smaller one wearing 
a white yachting cap. It proved to be Hussey, whom 
I had imagined back in England long before this. Mr. 
Hansen gave us a most cordial welcome, and I learned 
from Hussey all the news he had to tell. 



brought back to South Georgia for burial. I insert 
an account written by Hussey of what had occurred 
since I saw him last. 

" The journey up to Monte Video was marked by 
wretched weather. The ship's wireless was out of order, 
so that I was unable to acquaint the world with my sad 
news. We arrived on Sunday morning, January 29th, 
and I immediately went on shore and cabled to 
Mr. Rowett, asking him to break the news to Lady 

'' That afternoon, while I was in Wilson, Sons & 
Co.'s office, a telephone message came through from the 
Uruguayan Government asking me if they might take 
charge of any arrangements that had to be made there 
as a last tribute to the great explorer. I acquiesced, 
and they immediately set about bringing Sir Ernest's 
body ashore. Within half an hour they had sent a naval 
launch out to the Professor Gruvel to fetch the coffin. 
It was met on the quay by a guard of honour of 100 
marines and taken to the military hospital, where a 
guard of two soldiers was mounted over it day and night. 

" Next morning the medical officers at the hospital 
re-embalmed the body, as it was at first intended to 
bring it to England for burial. 


174 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

" That day, however, a cable came from Mr. Rowett 
saying that Lady Shackleton was sure that Sir Ernest 
would have wished to be buried on South Georgia, the 
scene of his greatest exploit, and asking me to make 
arrangements to do this. 

" The next ship to leave for South Georgia was the 
Woodville, with Captain Leaste in command. He was 
most courteous and sympathetic, and immediately placed 
such accommodation on his ship as was necessary at our 

" The day before she sailed a commemoration service 
was held in the English church at Monte Video, Canon 
Blount, and Canon Brady, an old friend of Sir Ernest, 
officiating. The coffin had been transferred from the 
military hospital to the church on the previous day. 

" While Sir Ernest's body was lying in state in the 
military hospital the matron and one of the nurses placed 
fresh flowers on it each day from the hospital garden. 

" For the memorial service the church was packed. 
Many members of the Uruguayan Government were 
present, and representatives from nearly every country 
in the world either sent wreaths or came in person. The 
President of Uruguay came into the church and stood 
a few minutes in silent contemplation before the rough 
wooden coffin which, covered by the Union Jack, stood in 
front of the altar. The Republic of Uruguay also sent 
a magnificent bronze wreath to be placed on the grave. 
The French Maritime Society sent a bronze palm, and 
Mr. Ogden Armour, representing the United States of 
America, brought a huge wreath of lilies. The British 
Minister at Monte Video came with a bronze wreath and 
a memorial plaque, both of which I screwed up later on 
the walls of the little wooden church in South Georgia. 

South Georgia 175 

" At the conclusion of the service the coffin was 
carried to a waiting gun-carriage by ten British ex- 
Service men. Huge crowds had assembled to pay their 
last tribute to the great explorer, and the whole of the 
route from the church to the quay where the Woodville 
was lying was lined by troops. Along one part of the 
route women showered rose petals down on to the coffin 
from overhanging balconies. 

" On arrival at the ship the coffin was taken aboard 
and the Uruguayan Minister for Foreign Affairs made 
a short speech, in which he said that not only England 
but the whole world was made the poorer by Sir Ernest's 
death. The British Minister replied, thanking the 
President and the Republic of Uruguay for the way in 
which they had honoured the dead explorer's memory. 

" The coffin was then lowered into the hold, and the 
Woodville put out into the harbour. 

" The Uruguayan Government had asked to be 
allowed to take the coffin down to South Georgia in a 
warship, but owing to the bad ice conditions which 
existed at that time I considered that to take an ordinary 
steel ship down there would be unnecessarily risking the 
lives of all on board as well as the safety of the ship. 
So they very reluctantly gave up the idea, but when the 
Woodville left next day the warship escorted her to the 
three-mile limit, fired a salute of seventeen guns — the 
highest possible honour that could be shown to anyone 
less than their own President — and steamed up along- 
side the Woodville with the marines formed up at the 
salute while their buglers sounded the " Farewell," 
which is usually only sounded for the fallen after victory 
in battle. This seemed to me to be the most touching 
tribute of all, symbolizing as it did their idea of Sir 

176 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

Ernest's life-struggles and his triumphant passing 

" We reached South Georgia on February 27th, 
1922, and in a blinding snow-storm we took the 
coffin ashore to the little wooden Lutheran church at 

" Sunday, March 5th, broke clear and calm. The 
managers from all five whaling stations had assembled 
at the church by three o'clock that afternoon, and a 
crowd of about one hundred fishermen were present to 
pay their last respects to Sir Ernest. The first part of 
the funeral service was said in English and Norwegian, 
Mr. Binnie, the magistrate, officiating. Then the coffin 
was taken by six Shetland islanders — all ex-Service men 
who happened to be working at Leith Harbour whaling 
station — to a light decauville railway, and carried over 
tiny mountain streams formed by the melting snow, and 
past huge boilers and piles of whalebones to the little 
cemetery on the hill. On arrival there the funeral 
service was completed, and with the British and Nor- 
wegian flags at half-mast at the gate of the cemetery 
the coffin was lowered to its last resting-place. 

" After the grave had been filled in I had a simple 
wooden cross erected, and on it I hung wreaths which 
I had brought from Monte Video on behalf of Lady 
Shackleton and her children, Mr. and Mrs. J. Q. Rowett, 
and the members of the expedition. 

'* Many more floral and other tributes were placed 
round and on the grave. 

" When the funeral service was over Mr. Hansen, 
the manager of Leith Harbour whaling station, very 
kindly offered me the hospitality of his house till I could 
get passage in a homeward-bound ship. Nothing had 

South Georgia 177 

been heard of the Quest, and I was anxiously waiting 
for news of my companions. On the morning of April 
6th Hansen wakened me with the news of the ship's 
arrival. We were not long in going aboard, and I re- 
ported at once to Commander Wild, giving him a full 
account of all that had happened. While the Quest 
was in harbour I went aboard and shared in such work 
as was necessary, and Commander Wild decided that I 
had better return to Monte Video as quickly as possible, 
collect all Sir Ernest's gear which I had left there in 
store, and proceed to England, there to report to Mr. 
Rowett and Lady Shackleton and give them any in- 
formation that they might require. 

" Accordingly I arrived at Monte Video on the Neko 
on April 24th, and, accompanied by the British Minister, 
I thanked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Buero, 
on behalf of Mr. Rowett and the members of the expedi- 
tion for the way that this great little Republic had 
honoured our late leader's memory. 

" I arrived in England on May 28th and was met 
at Southampton by Mr. Rowett, whose many encouraging 
and sympathetic cables had greatly cheered me on my 
sad and lonely mission, and to whom I gave a full 
report of all that had happened since the Quest had 
left England in September, 192 1." 

Whilst Hussey was telling me all that happened 
there flashed into my mind the remark Sir Ernest had 
made when the Quest first entered Gritviken Harbour — 
" The cross has gone from the hill-side ! " When he 
spoke I little thought that when next we should round 
the headland and look across the harbour to those slopes 
another cross would be there to replace the one that had 


178 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

gone, erected this time to the memory of his own brave 

Hussey was still awaiting a chance to go home, for 
since the arrival of the Woodville there had been no 
return steamers. The Neko, a floating factory belonging 
to Messrs. Salvesen & Co., was due from the South 
Shetlands in about ten days, and he hoped to secure a 
passage in her. I was glad to see this cheery little man 
again, who within a few hours had settled down amongst 
us as if he had never been away. 

The first work to be done after our arrival in South 
Georgia was the getting up again from the bunkers of all 
the heavy deck gear which had been placed below as 
ballast for the run from Elephant Island, where, owing 
to depleted stores and small remaining supply of coal, 
the ship had become very light and top heavy. It was 
not at all a pleasant job, for the bunkers contained a 
considerable quantity of blubber, and, owing to the 
heavy seas, the gear had shifted about and become 
covered with the most disgusting mixture of coal and 
grease, which had to be removed from each article as it 
came on deck. The remaining pieces of blubber were 
passed up and dumped overboard, for with the heat from 
the engine-room they had started to become very offen- 
sive. This done, the bunkers were cleared completely 
and made ready to receive coal. Attention was then 
turned to the ship and engines, to both of which there 
was a good deal to be done, as may be understood, owing 
to the severe bumping and the continued bad weather 
we had experienced. 

Under Jeffrey's direction, Dell, McLeod and Marr 
proceeded with* the deck work, reset up the rigging 
generally, replaced all worn gear, and put everything 

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South Georgia 179 

into shipshape order ready for once more proceeding to 
sea. The greater part of the next portion of our journey 
would be in the " Roaring Forties," which by no 
means belie their name, so I was particularly anxious 
that this part of the work should be thoroughly carried 

Kerr and his staff had a busy time in the engine- 
room, where all parts of the machinery were subjected 
to a complete overhaul. The main pump was taken 
down, new parts fitted, and the whole put into good 
working order. The hull was still leaking badly, and all 
the time we were in harbour we had to keep the hand 
pumps going vigorously whilst the steam pump was out 
of action. It was found that the engines as a whole had 
withstood the unusually hard conditions much better 
than was expected, and credit is due to the engine-room 
staff for the careful nursing they gave them throughout 
the period spent in the South. 

The contents of the hold were tallied and re-stowed, 
and space made to receive the mails for Tristan da 
Cunha, which had been deposited here in charge of Mr. 
Hansen. Whilst in the ice regions I kept the boats 
provisioned for thirty days, but I now reduced the 
amount to supplies for ten days only, as the larger weight 
is apt to make the boats unhandy. 

I found it necessary to take aboard some fresh pro- 
visions, and a small amount of equipment to replace 
damaged gear, but our requirements in this respect were 
small. I was fortunate in obtaining from Mr. Hansen a 
supply of fresh potatoes, which are, perhaps, the most 
valuable of all foodstuffs to people living under our 

Wilkins and Douglas were set free from all work 

i8o ^ Shackleton's Last Voyage 

about the ship so that they might have all their time 
free to carry on their scientific observations. 

A certain amount of carpentry was necessary about 
the ship, for which work the managers of the whaling 
stations supplied me with men. The broken after-scuttle 
was renewed and strengthened, and the deck-house, 
which had leaked badly, re-canvassed and covered with 
a coating of red lead. 

Throughout the whole of this work I received the 
most valuable assistance from Mr. Hansen, to whom 
nothing proved too much trouble. In addition, he gave 
us a most cordial welcome to his house, where we 
renewed our acquaintance with Dr. and Mrs. Aarberg. 
It was indeed " Liberty Hall," for we came and went 
as we pleased; the bathroom was thrown open for our 
use, and there was always an unlimited supply of hot 
water. We certainly needed it — words cannot give an 
idea of the luxury of that first long wallow in the bath. 
I was much touched by Mr. Hansen's kindly and prac- 
tical hospitality, and tried many times to express my 
thanks, but he brushed them aside as if it were all a 
matter of no moment. Indeed, I was surprised at the 
warmth of welcome we received from everybody we met. 
I have an inkling that the Quest was regarded as far too 
small a vessel for the undertaking, and that the enter- 
prise was considered a somewhat hazardous one. 

While the work of the ship was going forward I 
made a point of allowing the members of the expedition 
as much time for rest and recreation as possible. The 
period spent in the South had proved a trying and wear- 
ing one to everybody, and all were in need of a rest and 
change of exercise. Time also was required for " make 
and mend," washing of clothes and attention to personal 

South Georgia 


gear generally, which had been impossible whilst the 
Quest was the plaything of the heavy southern seas. 

I sent the men ashore, whenever the opportunity 
afforded, to walk over the island, play football, or 
yisit the people employed at the station, of whom a 
number were British, chiefly Shetlanders. There 
was a football ground behind the station, situated 
at the foot of a high mountain and overlooked by 

a glacier; the ground was more remarkable, however, 
for its romantic position than for the condition of its 
surface. We received a challenge from the Shetlanders, 
which I accepted. In so small a company as ours, 
numbering nineteen all told, it was not easy to raise 
eleven footballers, for many were Rugby players, and 
had never played the Association game. However, we 
succeeded in putting out a side which, after a good game, 
defeated the Shetlanders by one goal to nil. Anxious 

i82 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

for revenge, they challenged us to a return match, and 
beat us. Unfortunately, the opportunity for a third and 
decisive game did not occur. 

I encouraged incidents of this nature, for they pro- 
vided an entire change from the routine of ship's work 
and served to draw the men more closely together on a 
common level than the routine ship's work could ever 
do. Also they gave a new topic for conversation and 
discussion which lasted for days. 

On April 14th the N eko arrived, and I accompanied 
Mr. Hansen on a visit to her, when I discovered that her 
master, Captain Sinclair, was an old friend whom I had 
met in South Georgia eight years before. He readily 
consented to take Hussey to Rio de Janeiro, where he 
could transfer to a mail boat for home, and offered him 
the only accommodation available on board — the settee 
in his cabin. The N eko is a floating factory. Each 
spring, as soon as the ice opens, she proceeds to Decep- 
tion Island, and thence as her captain may think fit. 
She is accompanied by four steam whale-catchers, which, 
when they have killed a whale, bring it in and lay it 
alongside the parent ship. She herself is provided with 
boilers and vats and all the apparatus necessary for try- 
ing down the blubber into oil. The pursuit of whales 
has changed largely since the days of the old Dundee 
fleet, when the actual killing was carried out from boats 
by means of hand harpoons and lances. Now, instead 
of boats, small but fast steel steamers are used, which 
carry in their bows powerful guns from which the har- 
poon is fired. Attached to the harpoon is a strong rope 
coiled ready for running on a small sloping platform 
over the bows. A bomb is fitted to the end of the 
harpoon and forms the point. If the aim is good. 


Photos: Wtlkins 


Plioto: Dr. Macklin 
WW. NhW lYlM Ol- W H \1 IK 

A modern steam " catcher " entering harbour at South Georiiia throufih newly freezing ice 

Fhoto: W'itkms 


South Georgia 183 

this bursts inside the animal, causing instantaneous 

In the case of the stations located on South Georgia 
the process is much the same, but the shore factory 
replaces the parent ship and everything is on a larger 

The newer method of hunting is a much more lethal 
one — for the whale; from the catchers' point of view it 
is, of course, much safer and more comfortable. In the 
old days the chase of these huge animals was looked 
upon as a dangerous undertaking and might be regarded 
in the nature of a sport, for the whale had more than a 
sporting chance of getting away and the hunters stood 
a good chance of being drowned. Nowadays it has 
become a mere business. Nevertheless, the floating 
factories, in pushing south to good whaling grounds, take 
considerable risks of being crushed by the ice. 

Captain Sinclair is an old and very experienced hand 
at the work, and in addition to his whaling activities 
has added largely to" the charting of the South Shet- 
lands and the Palmer Archipelago. He has succeeded 
also in bringing home some unique live specimens of 
seals and penguins, which have been added to the collec- 
tion in the Zoological Gardens in Edinburgh. 

On the 15th we went to Stromness Harbour, where 
we were welcomed by the manager, Mr. Sorlle. 

When Sir Ernest Shackleton, accompanied by 
Worsley and Crean, made the crossing of South Georgia 
during the Endurance expedition, it was here that they 
arrived and were received by Mr. Sorlle, who fed them 
and provided them with hot baths and beds, and was 
instrumental in fitting out a relief ship to go to the rescue 
of the marooned party on Elephant Island, getting it 

184 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

ready within twenty-four hours of his first hearing of the 
state of affairs. This relief ship, the Southern Sky, was 
unfortunately held up by the ice, and her return was 
dictated, not by the Norwegians who manned her — they 
were ready to hang on for many more days — but by Sir 
Ernest Shackleton, who was anxious to get to the Falk- 
land Islands so that he might set going the preparation 
of a larger, properly ice-protected wooden ship. 

I decided to lay the Quest alongside the Perth, a 
large oil transport which acted as tender to the station. 
A strong breeze was blowing, which made the Quest very 
unhandy to manoeuvre, and whilst Worsley was putting 
her alongside she struck her bowsprit against the steel 
sides of the Perth and snapped it off short. This might 
have proved a serious disability, but, fortunately, Mr. 
Sorlle had a spar which he not only presented to us, but 
had cut down and shaped to our requirements. 

Here, as at Leith, we received every kindness, and 
we had hardly made fast before a present of a pig and 
a reindeer — the latter shot by Mr. Sorlle himself — were 
sent aboard. All the officers were invited to dine with 
Mr. Sorlle at his house in the evening, and we received 
a dinner of six or seven courses which rivalled anything 
to be had in civilization. Afterwards we spent a very 
pleasant evening with reminiscence, story and song. Mr. 
Sorlle is a most charming host. 

Whilst lying in Stromness Harbour we experienced 
one of those tremendous hurricanes which are character- 
istic of the southern volcanic islands. Descending from 
the hills without a moment's notice, it blew with such 
violence that the whole surface of the bay was lashed 
into a torn mass of driven water, the tops of the seas 
being snatched off and blown in a blinding spume to 

South Georgia 185 

leeward. One of our boats lying alongside the ship was 
swamped, and all gear that would float, such as oars, 
bottom boards and fishing tackle, were swept out of her 
and lost. Fortunately, the painter held, and there was 
no damage to the boat itself. 

There was no coal available at Leith, Stromness or 
Husvik, so on the 17th I proceeded to Prince Olaf 
Harbour to see if I could obtain what I required. The 
whaling station there is the property of Messrs. Lever 
Brothers, and is under English management. On my 
arrival I called at once on the manager, Mr. Bostock, 
who relieved my mind very much when he said he would 
give us what we required for our purpose. We accord- 
ingly lay alongside the Southern Isles, the oil transport 
steamer and station tender which was to supply us. 
Here, again, we received much help from Captain Sapp* 
who supplied all the labour necessary to put the coal 
on our decks. 

Whilst we were here Carr developed a nasty abscess 
of the face, and on the invitation of the company's 
doctor went ashore to the hospital, where he could get 
a bed, with clean sheets and other comforts not available 
on the ship. Macklin was suffering from an inflamed 
hand, the result of an accident whilst in the ice, and 
Mcllroy found it necessary to incise it for him. 

On the 19th we had completed coaling, and on the 
20th set off for the Bay of Isles to study the bird life of 
the numerous islands dotted about it. On this day 
Hussey left us to join the Neko at Leith. He had taken 
his old place amongst us and had joined fully in all the 
work of the ship. His unfailing optimism and cheerful- 
ness had done much to enliven us, and it was with 
genuine regret that we said good-bye. I think he felt 

x86 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

the going. With him went Carr, who was now suffering 
a good deal from his face. Hussey had instructions to 
take medical charge of him, and if his condition became 
worse to take him home on the Neko, but if it showed 
signs of improvement he was to hand him over to Dr. 
Aarberg, to await our arrival at Leith Harbour. 

We made first for Albatross Island, under the lee of 
which I lay to, and sent Jeffrey with the boat to put 
Wilkins and his party ashore. They effected a landing 
in a small cave, and, having scaled a cliff, reached the 
summit of the island, where they found albatross and 
giant petrels in large numbers. 

Macklin, whose hand prevented him from working, 
asked permission to go with them, and I quote from his 
diary : 

We landed on a little beach inside a cave which 
was occupied by a number of sea-elephants, which 
showed their resentment of our approach by opening 
their mouths very wide and making stertorous windy 
noises which could hardly be described as *' roaring " 
— " breathing " defiance with a vengeance. 

In the enclosed atmosphere they smelled horribly, 
for they are unclean, swinish brutes. From the cave 
we clambered up a steep cliff to the top of the island, 
which we found to be irregular in shape and covered 
with tussock grass. Wilkins, with the assistance of 
Marr and Argles, immediately set about collecting 
albatross for addition to the natural history collections. 
These birds, when seen at close quarters on the 
ground, prove to be much larger than one would 
imagine, being about the size of large geese, but with 
much longer legs. Their appearance on land is ugly 
and ungainly, and contrasts strongly with the grace 


Fnotoi :■ IVukins 



The beak of the young is thrust right inside the throat of the parent 

Fhotos : ivitkins 


South Georgia 187 

and beauty they exhibit when in flight. Wilkins, by 
going slowly, was easily able to get within reach, when 
he grabbed their beaks and " pithed " them by pass- 
ing a needle through the back of the skull into the 
brain. He took the heads, wings and legs as speci- 
mens and made them into neat parcels for transmission 
to the museums. Jeffrey and McLeod had stayed to 
look after the boat, so, being at a loose end and 
remembering Worsley's ecstatic remarks concerning 
baby albatross, I set about collecting enough of them 
for a meal for all hands. The island was covered 
with little paths worn by the birds, which formed a 
regular maze amongst the tussocks and hummocks of 
grass. Here and there one came across little circular 
plateaux which apparently formed a meeting-place for 
numbers of birds, for they were worn absolutely bare 
to the mud. The nests of the albatross are placed on 
the top of small, raised, cone-shaped mounds com- 
posed of earth and tussock grass, which are nearly 
always situated on the windward side of the island, 
so that the birds when preparing for flight have merely 
to spread their wings to get a good take off. The 
inside of the nest is hollowed sufficiently deep to allow 
the young bird to crouch and take shelter from the 
winds. The young are pretty little things covered 
with white down, and from the highest point of the 
island I could see them all round me standing out in 
marked contrast to the dark green of the tussock grass. 
The giant petrels, " Nellies " or " Stinkers," as 
they are variously called, nest in much the same way. 
They are most unpleasant creatures and receive from 
sailors none of the veneration accorded to the alba- 
tross. We had been ashore some hours when 

i88 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

Commander Wild sent up a detonator as a signal for 
our recall. The cliffs on the side where we had landed 
are steep and overhanging, so that we had to approach 
cautiously, and had some difficulty in finding the way 
back to our cave. We at length found the spot where 
we had ascended. I flung my collection of birds over 
the cliff to be picked up below, and all of us having 
got safely down we rowed back to the ship. 

Macklin, in speaking of " the veneration accorded 
to the albatross," voices a yery old superstition 
amongst seamen of the old sailing ship days. When I 
first went to sea as a boy this was still a common belief 
amongst sailors, but though there are a few of these old- 
timers left who still hold to the old romantic ideas, they 
are becoming more and more scarce. Romance is not 
dead, as Kipling says, but it moves with the times. 
Masefield says : 

Them birds goin' fishin' is nothin' but souls o' the drowned, 
Souls o' the drowned an' the kicked as are never no more ; 

An' that there haughty old albatross cruisin' around. 
Belike he's Admiral Nelson or Admiral Noah. 

I recalled the party on account of the weather, for a 
strong wind had blown up, the seas were increasing and 
there were indications of a heavy storm. I did not care 
to be caught with the Quest on a lee shore, so went back 
to Prince Olaf Harbour, where we found that all their 
own whale catchers had returned for shelter. In addi- 
tion there were a number belonging to other stations 
which had put in here till the weather should abate. We 
had for dinner the next night the baby albatross which 
Macklin had brought off. This was the first food ob- 
tained by Sir Ernest Shackleton on his arrival at South 

South Georgia 189 

Georgia from the boat journey, and often had we listened 
to Worsley's telling of the story, this much of which 
never varied : " Baby albatross just off the nest — we ate 
them ! By jove, they were good, damn good ! " By 
one of life's little ironies he was having dinner ashore 
that night and so missed them; his disappointment on 
hearing of it was keen. 

On the 22nd, the weather having abated somewhat, 
we left to carry out an extensive series of soundings 
about the north-western end of South Georgia. This we 
accomplished in spite of very bad weather. The Quest, 
as usual, behaved abominably, having a most uncomfort- 
able motion as we butted into the head seas, which sent 
the spray in clouds high over the yards. 

We returned to Prince Olaf Harbour on the 25th. 
There was still much to be done, and Mr. Bostock kindly 
lent me his shore carpenter for some jobs that were still 
outstanding on the ship. 

On the 27th we said good-bye to our friends and left 
for Leith, passing en route the Woodville, which was 
coming up the coast, and presented a fine sight as she 
dipped her nose deeply into the swell. 

We arrived in Leith Harbour in a blinding snow 
squall which made mooring to the buoy a difficult matter. 
The Quest's engines were of such low power that man- 
oeuvring in close spaces was an extremely difficult matter 
during the squalls, which came out of the mountains with 
hurricane force and startling suddenness. 

On the 29th Mr. Hansen was able to make room for 
us alongside his little pier, where we proceeded to take 
in water. Owing to the low temperature the water in 
the hose froze solid and it became necessary to clear the 
galley to thaw it, the process being carried out section 

igo Shackleton's Last Voyage 

by section till all was clear. Green had the dinner in 
process of cooking, and was quite perturbed when he 
had to sweep away all his pots and pans to make room 
for the hose — such is an example of what a cook has to 
put up with at sea. 

On May ist we took aboard what stores we required 
and the mails for Tristan da Cunha. We received from 
Mr. Hansen some final presents in the form of a pig and 
several small but useful sundries, and from Captain 
Manson of the Albuera an additional two crates of fresh 

On the 2nd we said good-bye to Leith Harbour, 
which we had regarded as our South Georgia home and 
where we had received so much kindness, not only from 
Mr. Hansen, the manager, who had done everything in 
his power to assist us, but from Dr. Aarberg, who had 
looked after Carr whilst we had been carrying out the 
soundings about the island and had been of assistance 
to the surgeons in many ways. Our thanks are due to 
Mrs. Aarberg also, for with much kindly thoughtfulness 
she had asked us to entrust to her care such articles of 
clothing as might require the " stitch in time." 

As a result of our stay we were refreshed and full of 
vigour, for the spell ashore and in harbour had done us 
all good. Thanks also to the various managers we had 
been able to vary the diet from our own preserved pro- 
visions to fresh food in the form of pork, reindeer and 
whale-meat, which provided a most pleasant change. 
We were able to catch also Cape pigeons and albatross, 
which when properly cooked make quite good eating. 
The former have an oily taste which can be largely 
removed by soaking them for twenty-four hours in dilute 




Photos: Dr. Macklin 
A winter view of Gritviken Harbour, with the magistrate's house in the foreground 



Cd -«« 
£ w 

2 o 

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< 2 






South Georgia 191 

I seized every chance of sending away the boats to 
catch fresh fish, which are found in great quantity about 
the coast. Macklin, Jeffrey, Green and Hussey (whilst 
he was with us) were those most often engaged in this 
work, which was not always pleasant. An entry in one 
diary reads : 

Some people fish for fun, some consider it a sport, 
others fish because they have blooming' well got to. 
I am one of them. Down here the job is often any- 
- thing but a joyous one in cold driving wind and snow, 
fingers so cold that one can scarcely remove the hooks 
from the fishes' mouths. Sometimes the blizzards 
sweep down and it is all we can do to fight our way 
inch by inch back to the ship. . . . 

Macklin writes in this connexion : 

The fish here are of excellent quality and have 
the peculiarity that when cooked they do not taste 
fishy. Green usually fries them in olive oil and they 
are particularly good. The best spots for finding fish 
are in belts of kelp close to the edge where the tides 
sweep in and out. Whale meat (not blubber) makes a 
good bait and a spinner (or any piece of bright tin) 
helps to attract the fish. One can usually moor the 
boat to the strands of kelp, but it is advisable always 
to have on board a small kedge anchor and a good 
length of line in case of being swept away by the 
blizzards which blow from the hills with strong, sudden 

Green is a great enthusiast, and is always willing 
to come, whatever the weather. . . . 

For the substitution of the adjective I apologize to the entrant. 

192 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

There is no sport in the actual fishing, for the fish 
abound in great quantities and are very sluggish. The 
chief art lies in knowing just where to go for them. 
There are two kinds, which we speak of as " ordinary " 
fish and " crocodile " fish. The first, as the name im- 
plies, have nothing peculiar about them. The latter 
have immense mouths with crocodile-shaped jaws and 
look hideous. The tail is small, and indeed it may be 
said that there is more mouth than anything else. 

The trip to Gritviken was uneventful and we arrived 
there the same day. 

Before leaving South Georgia we had rather a sad 
duty to perform. For a long time I had desired to erect 
some mark which would serve to perpetuate the memory 
of Sir Ernest Shackleton. We had no time to do it 
before we left for the South, for every day was precious 
and it was essential that we should get away at the 
earliest possible moment. After some consideration I 
decided that the mark should take the form of a cairn 
surmounted by a cross, and I selected as a site for it a 
prominent spot on the headland which stands out from 
the lower slopes of Duse Fell, at the entrance to Grit- 
viken harbour. I determined that it should be the work 
of his comrades, something which we ourselves could 
create without help from outside sources. Everyone on 
board was anxious to have a hand in the building, so 
I arranged things that they might do so. On the night 
of our arrival the temperature fell very low and the 
surface of the harbour froze over, not sufficiently to 
permit of walking but enough to make it an extremely 
difficult matter to get the boat to the shore. Also snow 
fell thickly. We broke a way through the ice and pro- 
ceeded to the headland, where we made a search for 

South Georgia 193 

suitable building stone. There was none convenient, 
and to obtain it we had to go some distance up the hill- 
side to where a shoulder of rock jutted out through 
the tussock grass. Having removed the snow we bored 
the rock and blasted it with sabulite, afterwards breaking 
away suitable pieces with crowbar and pick. For sledg- 
ing it down the hill we had to make special box-con- 
tainers; even then with the steepness of the declivity 
and the roughness of the track it was a difficult matter 
to prevent the loads from falling off. The work was 
awkward and hard; on several occasions the sledges 
broke away and careered down the slippery hillside with 
the men clinging desperately behind. No one grudged 
the labour and time spent, for it was the last job we 
should do for the Boss. The foundations were laid and 
the cairn began to grow. There were no expert masons 
amongst us, but the work when completed had a most 
pleasing appearance. Into the stone we cemented a 
brass plate on which was engraved very simply : 



died here, january 5th, i922. 

erected by his comrades. 

The cairn is solid and will stand the ravages of frost 
and blizzards for many years to come. 

It will be the first object picked out by any ship 
entering the harbour, and to anyone looking back as 
the vessel steams away it will stand out in lonely promi- 
nence long after the station has disappeared from view. 
It can be seen also from every part of the harbour. 

Our last act before leaving was to pay a visit to the 
Boss's grave, for which purpose I gathered together all 


194 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

those who had served under him on the Endurance and 
had shared with him all the trials and vicissitudes that 
followed her loss in the ice. There were, in addition to 
myself, Worsley, Macklin, Mcllroy, Kerr, Green and 
McLeod. That I included none of the newer men who 
had known him for so short awhile casts no shadow of 
aspersion upon them. My feelings in the matter are 
hard to describe. We were joined to each other and 
to him by ties so strongly welded through the long 
months of common danger and uncertainty that I felt 
there would be something wrong in introducing anything 
in the nature of a less intimate element. 

So our little party rowed across the bay, walked to 
the little graveyard and gathered for the last time round 
his grave. It was deeply snow-covered. We carefully 
removed the snow and disclosed a number of bronze 
wreaths : from Lady Shackleton and from numerous 
friends and relatives at home. There were others from 
the Uruguayan Republic, the British residents in Uru- 
guay, the Freemasons of Uruguay and the French Mari- 
time Society. Two others hang in the little church, 
placed there by Hussey : one from His Majesty King 
George V and the British people, the other from his 
old schoolfellows resident in South America. There 
was also the flower wreath placed with such kindly 
thought by the doctor's wife, Mrs. Aarberg. 

The graveyard is a simple little place. In it are 
already a few crosses, some of them very old, mute 
reminders of forgotten tragedies. Four of them mark 
the resting-places of officers and men of the sailing ship 
Esther, of London. They had died of typhus fever 
and were buried here in 1846. There is one inscribed 
to W. H. Dyke, Surgeon, who in his devotion to duty 

South Georgia 195 

in attending the sick had also contracted the disease and 
died. There are some newer crosses erected to Nor- 
wegian whalers who had lost their lives in the arduous 
calling which brings them to these stormy waters. All 
of them are the graves of strong men. 

It is a fitting environment. Gritviken is a romantic 
spot. All around are big mountains, bold in outline 
and snow-covered. Below lies one of the most perfect 
little harbours in the world, at times disturbed by the 
fierce winds from the hills and lashed by the gusty 
squalls to a mass of flying spume and spindrift. Often 
it lies calm and peaceful, bathed in glorious sunshine 
and reflecting in its deeps the high peaks around, whilst 
the sea-birds, " souls of old mariners," circle in sweep- 
ing flights above its surface and fill the air with the 
melancholy of their cries. An ideal resting-place this 
for the great explorer who felt, more than most men, the 
glamour of such surroundings. 

So we said good-bye to the " Old Boss," and I who 
have served with him through four expeditions know 
that if he could have chosen his own resting-place it 
would have been just here. 

Here — here*s his place, where meteors shoot, clouds form, 

Ligihtnings are loosened, 
Stars come and g-o! Let joy break with the storm, 

Peace let the dew send ! 
Lofty designs must close in like effects : 

Loftily lying", 
Leave him — still loftier than the world suspects. 

Living and dying. —Robert Browning. 

We had still some work to do before finally setting 
course for Tristan da Cunha. 

Before leaving Gritviken I entrusted our last lot of 

196 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

letters and messages for home to Mr. Binnie, the magis- 
trate, who, together with the other Government repre- 
sentatives on the island, had been very helpful to us in 
many ways. 

We went alongside the little pier where we hardened 
up' the water tanks. Mr. Jacobsen paid a last visit to 
the ship and presented us with a parting present in the 
form of a fine young sow, which was carried aboard in 
a box, receiving the excited attentions of Query. I did 
not kill her at once, intending to keep and feed her up 
so that we might have some fresh meat when at sea. 
Someone gave her the name " Bridget," and so she was 
known until her demise some weeks later at the hands 
of Dell, who did our butchering. 

We received also from Mr. Jacobsen some packets of 
dried Swedish oaten cakes, which were of particular 
interest in that they had formed part of the stores of 
Filchner's German expedition which had come to grief 
and been abandoned here. They were still, after eleven 
years, in excellent condition. 

We left on May 7th and had been some hours at 
sea when we discovered a stowaway aboard. This was 
'' Micky," a small black-and-white dog belonging to 
Mr. Binnie, the magistrate. He was discovered by 
Macklin who, whilst descending into the hold, stepped 
in the darkness upon something which moved and yelped 
and which proved, upon being dragged to the light for 
inspection, to be this animal. We lavished upon him 
no loving remarks, but knowing that Mr. Binnie set 
great store by him I put back and in the small hours of 
the morning sent Jeffrey with the boat to put him ashore, 
having previously tied to his neck a message to Binnie, 

* A sea term, meaning that we filled the tanks full to the top. 

South Georgia 197 

explaining his disappearance and requesting him as a 
magistrate to award a punishment of at least three days 
jail for having caused us so much trouble and loss of 

On May 8th we visited Royal Bay and Moltke 
Harbour, where the German Transit of Venus Expedi- 
tion had had a station in 1882. One of the huts then 
set up is still standing. 

The glacier running into this harbour is of great 
geological interest because in the last forty years it has 
advanced about a mile and receded to its original posi- 
tion. I sent the boat ashore with Jeffrey, Macklin and 
Ross to find suitable landings for the scientific parties. 
There was a heavy surf running which made the opera- 
tion difficult, but they succeeded in putting Douglas with 
Carr and Argles on to a steep rocky beach which ran 
along the side of the harbour. Marr, still very inexperi- 
enced in boat work, fell overboard during the process 
and was rolled over and over in the surf, to be eventually 
cast upon the beach ; but he escaped with nothing worse 
than a ducking — which is not a joke in these tempera- 
tures. Wilkins, who with Marr had wished to land on 
the beach at the side of the glacier, was unable to 
do so. 

I sent Macklin, Mcllroy, Marr and Green to catch 
as many fish as possible for taking away with us. Find- 
ing a suitable spot at the edge of a belt of kelp, they 
secured a good haul and brought back enough to last 
for several days, for in these temperatures there was not 
much fear of its going bad. 

Shortly before dark I recalled all hands, who were 
picked up and brought off safely. 

Before leaving, Worsley took a line of soundings 

198 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

along the front of the glacier. This was our last work 
in South Georgia. 

This remote island has drawn to it scientists from all 
nations, yet there remains much to interest the investi- 
gators of to-day. During our stay we made a great 
number of observations and collected a mass of data 
which when sorted and worked out fully will, I hope, 
be of great interest to the scientific world. 

We now put to sea and set course for Tristan da 
Cunha. As we left the bay the moon came out — a big 
golden moon which cast a broad pathway on the sea and 
bathed the huge glaciers and the snow-covered moun- 
tains and valleys in a soft golden glow. Our last sight 
of South Georgia was a very beautiful one, and my last 
thoughts as I gazed back over our rippling wake, gleam- 
ing in the moonlight with brighter phosphorescence, were 
of my comrade who stayed there, and I hoped for his 
sake that our completed enterprise would be the success 
that he himself would have made it. 



FROM South Georgia we proceeded first in a 
northerly direction in order to get into the belt of 
prevailing westerlies which would give us a fair quarterly 
wind for Tristan da Cunha. 

Whilst still in the vicinity of the island a number 
of soundings were carried out by Worsley and his 

From the first we had bad weather, and the winds 
increased in force during the next few days until, on 
Friday, May 12th, so fierce a gale was blowing that I 
was compelled to take in sail and heave to. We had a 
most uncomfortable time, though we could expect 
nothing less since we were now in the " Roaring 

Macklin's diary of May 13th is fairly descriptive of 
conditions about this time : 

Had the middle watch. Heavy seas were run- 
ning and the wind was strong with violent squalls 
of rain and snow. It was a dirty night. The Quest 
rolled worse than anything I have ever known, with 
staggering jerks that made it impossible to let go a 

At times the ship sagged down so heavily to 
leeward that my heart was in my mouth, for it seemed 
as if she could never recover herself. Peering to 


200 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

windward as the great seas bore down upon us I was 
reminded of Kipling's 

Be well assured that on our side 

The abiding- oceans fig"ht, 
Though headlong wind and heaping tide 
Make us their sport to-night. 

which is comforting to know. He always seems to 
catch just the right expression, as : 
Out of the mist into the mirk 

The glimmering combers roll. 
Almost these mindless waters work 
As though they had a soul — 
However, as the Boss used to say : " When things are 
bad any change is likely to be for the better." We 
pour some vile epithets upon the head of poor old 
Quest, but she really does not deserve them, for she 
is always at her best when things are bad. Com- 
mander Wild says she is like a woman, quoting some- 
thing about *' Women in our hours of ease, perfidious, 
fickle, hard to please ! " I suppose he knows all 
about it. Anyway, she has brought us through what 
might well have caused many a more stately ship to 
founder. Things have remained much the same 
during the day — water keeps coming over the gun- 
wales in huge masses and hundreds of tons pass 
hourly across " The Rubicon," as we call the wash 
of water in the waist of her. Occasionally big green 
seas come aboard en masse, flooding the whole ship, 
and find their way everywhere, through cracks in the 
doors, spirting through the keyholes and through the 
ventilators, which, with all the ports tightly closed, 
must be kept open. 
Macklin places in my mouth an incorrect rendering 
which I would never apply to the gentler sex, but which 
is certainly very appropriate to the Quest. 

The Tristan da Cunha Group 201 

" Bridget," the pig which was presented to us by Mr. 
Jacobsen on leaving South Georgia, had a very miser- 
able time, and I was almost giving instructions to have 
it killed right away. It was totally unable to keep its 
footing on the slippery deck and it was very sea-sick. 
I handed it over to the care of McLeod, who found it a 
snug berth in the bathroom, where it quickly recovered 
its spirits and began to develop an insatiable appetite. 

In passing I may mention that the bathroom, so- 
called, was a small recess containing a tub situated at 
the side of the engine-room and opening into the star- 
board alleyway. It was always warm from the heat of 
the engines and we used it chiefly as a drying-room for 
clothes. It was used occasionally also on very cold 
nights as a warming-room for chilled night-watchmen. 
We possessed nothing so luxurious as a real bathroom, 
and, sinking modesty, we bathed ourselves from a bucket 
on deck. In the very cold weather those who were able 
to ingratiate themselves with Kerr, the chief engineer, 
could sometimes take their tub in front of the furnace 
fires. This was a real luxury. 

I was glad to notice on May 14th a falling off of 
both wind and sea, and Mcllroy predicted a spell of 
finer weather. On the 15th it was distinctly calmer and 
we were able to continue the work on deck, which in a 
ship at sea is interminable, but which the heavier weather 
had compelled us to suspend temporarily. " Bridget " 
emerged from her retreat and started to move about the 
deck, where she quickly made friends with Query. It 
was highly amusing to watch the antics of the two of 
them. She also started to make friendships amongst 
the hands — notably with Green, whom she quickly 
learned to regard as the source of her food supply. At 

202 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

times she became too friendly, for she began to take an 
interest in the cabins and wardroom. Another bad 
habit was that of moving about the decks at night, where 
she had repeated collisions with the men working the 

In spite of the improvement there was still a big 
enough sea to cause the Quest to roll heavily, and on 
the 1 8th we nearly had a nasty accident. 

I had set a party, composed of Macklin, Mcllroy, 
Jeffrey, Carr and Marr, to hoisting up from the lower 
hold a number of sacks of beans which had got wet and 
become offensive. The work, which was hard and diffi- 
cult on account of the awkward motion, was being 
carried out, and to clear a space Macklin had sent up 
a large heavy ice-basket full of sundry stores, the whole 
weighing many hundredweights. Carr was on deck, and 
had received the basket when the ship gave an unusually 
heavy lurch. Both he and the basket were shot to the 
opening, and though he was able to save himself the 
basket fell with a crash into the hold where the men 
were working. Carr yelled a warning and they man- 
aged to leap clear, receiving the impact of some of the 
cases but escaping a direct blow. This is but one 
example of many " incidents " of the kind that occurred 
throughout the trip. 

Worsley, Jeffrey, Carr, Macklin, Kerr and Green all 
at separate times fell through the hatch, and that none 
of them received serious injury is remarkable. I was 
fully prepared on any day to witness some accident, 
and that so few occurred can only be due to the special 
Providence that guards children, drunken men and 
sailors. " There's a sweet little cherub that sits up 
aloft, looks after the soul of poor Jack " (sea song). 

The Tristan da Cunha Group 203 

Leaving the " Roaring Forties/' the air became 
milder and the temperature rose, so that we were able 
once more to go about without heavy clothing and could 
cast aside mufflers, mitts and woollen caps. 

We sighted Inaccessible Island just after midnight 
on May 19th. It appeared as a high mass with dimly 
marked outline obscured at the top by dark banks of 
cloud. As we came abreast of it the moon came out, 
creating a very weird effect. The island itself stood 
out in deep, almost Stygian, blackness, and from its 
summit smoke seemed to be belching in great rolling 
masses. High above all was the moon, showing fitfully 
from between scudding clouds, and in front, accentuat- 
ing the effect, was a rippling silvery pathway. It 
reminded me of a scene from Dante's Inferno. 

I now set course direct for Tristan da Cunha, where 
we arrived about daybreak. 

The summit of the island was entirely obscured by 
heavy clouds and rain fell thickly, so that everything 
had a dreary aspect. As the light increased we were 
able to pick out the little cascade which gives a good 
mark for the anchorage and dropped our anchor in 7^ 
fathoms. Looking ashore I saw a number of small, 
thatched houses situated on a piece of flat ground 
bounded on the side of the sea by short steep cliffs. 
This was the settlement where the whole population of 
the island lived. As we saw it now, on this soaking early 
morning, it might have been a dead village, for there 
was no sign of life, either beast or human, not a wreath 
of smoke ascended from the chimneys, and nothing at 
all stirred. To attract attention I blew a blast on the 
steam whistle, when there was an immediate change. 
The people came running from their cottages and the 

204 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

settlement sprang to life. The men launched their 
boats and came off to us. The sailor's eye was at once 
attracted by the boats, which are made of canvas over 
a wooden framework. The men themselves were an 
uncouth lot. They were very excited and talked a 
great deal in thin jabbering voices. They hastened to 
board us and started at once to ask for things. They 
proved to be a great nuisance, so I sent them all ashore, 
retaining only one man, Robert Glass, who seemed to 
be the most intelligent of them. I learnt from him that 
the islanders were very destitute. He asked in the 
name of the community for our help and, realizing that 
they were indeed in a bad way, I determined in the 
name of Mr. Rowett, who I felt sure would sympathize 
with my action, to give them all the relief I could. 

I gave instructions to Worsley to see what could be 
done for them in the way of deck gear, nails, canvas, 
rope, paint, etc., things of which they were in great 
need, and told Macklin to find out what could be spared 
in the way of food and general equipment. 

We had brought fifteen bags of letter and parcel 
mail from England for these islanders; we had on board 
also a large number of packages and cases which 
Macklin, who had been compelled to find room for 
them in the sorely restricted space at his disposal, was 
pleased at the prospect of being able to hand over. 
They included a large gramophone, a gift from the 
^olian Company, and some Bovril sent by the firm as 
a present to the islanders. 

As I was anxious to learn all I could about these 
people, their ways and customs and mode of life 
generally, I detailed Macklin to go ashore for this pur* 
pose. I also g^ave him instructions to take a complete 

The Tristan da Cunha Group 205 

census, which might be of use to the Cape Government. 
He remained there while the ship visited Nightingale 
and Inaccessible Islands, and as I have asked him to 
write his own account, to avoid repetition I will refrain 
from any further description of Tristan da Cunha 

The Tristan da Cunha group of islands includes 
the three just mentioned and two smaller islets known 
as Middle and Stoltenhoff respectively. They lie 
roughly in latitude 37 south and 12 west longitude, and 
they are approximately 4,000 miles from the Cape of 
Good Hope. Tristan is probably the most isolated 
inhabited island in the world. 

The group was discovered by the Portuguese 
admiral whose name they bear, in 1506. The Dutch, 
at the time of their settlement in the Cape Colony, 
examined it with a view to making it a naval station. 
The East India Company also sent a ship to see if it 
would be worth while forming a settlement there. No 
one lived there, however, till early in the eighteenth 
century, when a man named Thomas Currie landed and 
decided to remain. He was joined by two American 
whalers, named Lambert and Williams respectively. 
There is a vague report, too, of a Spanish boy having 
somehow or other joined the party. Lambert and 
Williams were drowned whilst making a visit to In- 
accessible Island. What happened to the other is not 
clear. The history of the present settlement is dealt 
with in the following chapter. 

A British naval officer, named Nightingale, visited 
the group in 1760, and the crew of a sealing vessel, 
under command of John Patten, spent six months about 
the islands, collecting the skins of fur seals. The first 

2o6 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

accurate survey was made by the hydrographic staff of 
the Challenger, which in the course of her historic 
voyage round the world spent a short time here in 

All hands having been recalled from the shore, 
we left Tristan da Cunha at 7.30 p.m. on May 
20th and proceeded in the direction of Inaccessible 
Island, which loomed up in the dark ahead of us 
about midnight. We reduced speed, waiting till 
daylight should give us a chance to see what we were 

I took with me on the Quest three of the inhabitants 
of Tristan da Cunha to act as pilots and guides about 
the islands. They were Bob Glass, his brother John 
Glass, and Henry Green. 

In the early hours of the morning the wind increased 
and blew from the north-east with very heavy rain 
squalls. A landing on Inaccessible Island seemed 
quite impossible, so I ran for shelter under the south- 
west end of Nightingale Island, which we reached at 
about 7 A.M. I put out the surf boat and sent ashore 
a party, composed of Wilkins and Marr, for natural 
history work, and Douglas and Carr for geological pur- 
poses. Jeffrey was in charge of the boat, and I sent 
with him Henry Green and John Glass. They effected 
a landing on the south-east corner of the island, at a 
point where the rock rose sheer from the water, but 
where there was a rough ledge, on which they managed 
to get a footing and place their equipment, which con- 
sisted of theodolites, guns, pickaxes, bags, etc. 

Here the parties separated, John Glass accompany- 
ing Wilkins, whilst Henry Green acted as guide to the 

The Tristan da Cunha Group 207 

Marr writes in his diary : 

We climbed a short way along the jagged rocks 
with our baggage and came to a flat table-like area 
backed by high cliffs with gigantic boulders at their 
base. The other party went right on up a narrow 
gully with the intention of inspecting a guano patch 
at the far side of the island. We remained here for 
a short space whilst Wilkins shot a number of birds 
and then followed up the hill. From the ship we 
had thought that this would be easy going up a grassy 
slope. We were sadly disillusioned, however, for the 
grass was rank tussock and grew high above our 
heads, from six to ten feet in length, and was ex- 
tremely difficult to break through. Underfoot the 
ground was rotten and soaking, and at every step 
it gave way and we sank knee-deep and further. Mr. 
Wilkins kept shooting birds on the way up, but we 
had great difficulty in finding them in the grass. We 
were drenched to the skin by the time we arrived at 
the top, where there was open land covered with small 
trees and loose rocks and a peculiar round-bladed 
grass which grew in close tufts very difficult to walk 
upon. Here more birds were shot, and we started on 
the return journey, sliding down the soaking rotten 
earth, stumbling blindly through the long grass and 
slipping into the holes. 

On reaching the bottom the party returned in the 
boat to the ship without waiting for the geologists. 
The latter had crossed the col to the northern slopes, 
finding, like the others, that the going was very hard on 
account of the tussock grass. " These (grass reeds) 
grow to about eight feet high," says one of the party, 

2o8 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

*' and are about half an inch in diameter, and are so 
dense that a man five feet away is invisible." Examina- 
tions were made and survey work was carried out, and 
when it was finished the party set off back to the landing- 
place. Douglas writes : 

. . . Upon reaching a small eminence we saw the 
Quest steaming around the north-east point. This 
was one of the few occasions when she added to the 
picture and not, through the ugliness of her lines, 
detracted from it. In the brilliant sunshine as she 
came into the mouth of the passage between Nightin- 
gale and Middle Islands, gently dipping in the north- 
east swell but still rolling, she made a very pretty 

I suppose Douglas is right when he remarks that the 
Quest is not a beautiful ship, for her lines certainly 
cannot be described as yacht-like. Yet as my affection 
for her grew she appeared more and more beautiful in 
my eyes, till, thinking of her in retrospect, I have almost 
a feeling of resentment at any such criticism. After 
all, beauty is largely a matter of what we are educated 
to regard as such, and our ideas change, as witness what 
are to us to-day the extraordinary " fashions " of only 
fifty years ago ! The Quest is neither stately nor grace- 
ful, but she certainly has a beauty of her own. What- 
" she "has not? 

The geological party also was safely taken off, and 
we lay off for the night about a mile from the land. In 
the morning I brought the ship closer in and, feeling 
my way carefully with the hand-lead, proceeded to the 
north of Nightingale Island. I was anxious to put 
Douglas ashore on Middle Island, and sent off the boat 



Photo: Dr. Macklin 


Photos: Dr. Macklin 


The Tristan da Cunha Group 209 

with Jeffrey, Dell and the three islanders. Douglas 
and Henry Green effected a landing, and in the mean- 
time I dropped anchor in the passage where we were 
in shelter, the wind having come round to the west. 
Whilst waiting here we fished for sharks, which abound 
in considerable quantity and of which we caught 
several. They were of little use, but I have the 
sailor's hatred of these rapacious brutes and had no 
compunction in destroying as many of them as my 
men could catch. 

During the afternoon a strong wind blew up, and 
Jeffrey and Dell had the greatest difficulty in getting in 
to the island to pick up the party. During the more 
violent squalls they shipped oars and clung to the kelp 
which grows about here in long, strong strands. Dell 
describes this as the worst row he had ever experienced. 
They succeeded eventually and returned with the party 
to the ship. 

Weather conditions at this time of year are not very 
suitable for carrying out an extensive survey and ex- 
amination, and I was unable to allow Douglas any great 
opportunity for accurate work. He made good use of 
his few chances, however, and his observations are likely 
to prove of value. 

A landing (was effected) at the south-east corner 
(of Nightingale) where a platform of lava extends 
from the foot of the low col which forms the easiest 
passage to the north of the island. The island is 
rectangular in plan, about one mile by three-quarters. 
The south shore is bounded by fairly high cliffs, ex- 
cept for one or two small platforms. The east shore 
is also high, and the highest point of the island rises 

210 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

here in very steep slopes. The col above mentioned 
is the low feature joining the high peak with the 
other high points to the west and interior of the island. 
It is probable that the island was once a volcano, as 
the central depression and various agglomeritic occur- 
rences would testify. From the centre the island 
slopes down gradually towards the north, ending in 
low cliffs of about thirty feet high. 

Nightingale Island has a single sharp peak about 
2,000 feet high. Middle Island lies to the north, and is 
separated from it by a passage half a mile in width. 
Douglas says : 

. . . The island owes its existence to two causes — 
first the lavas from Nightingale . . . must have ex- 
tended well to the north, and secondly, there has been 
local out-welling of lava. The latter lava is extremely 
hard and has formed the col which has resisted the 
action of the sea. The first lava is so soft that it is 
easily worn away, which accounts for its separation 
from Nightingale. The island is comparatively small, 
being less than half a mile on its longest axis. Being 
close to Nightingale its flora is similar. The island 
does not rise higher than two hundred feet, and is girt 
with vertical cliffs on the west, north and east sides. 
The landing is at the south-east point, and there is a 
large cave at the most southerly point. 

The island of Stoltenhoff, a little more than half 
a mile distant, is a huge flat-topped rock rising from 
the water for two hundred feet. No landing possible. 
The island is probably an extension of " Middle " to 
the north, but may represent another separate centre 
of activity. 

The Tristan da Cunha Group 211 

We remained at anchor for the night in the passage 
between Nightingale and Middle Islands, and sailed at 
4 A.M. for Inaccessible Island. 

This island has been the scene of several shipwrecks, 
including that of the Blendon Hall in 182 1. It does 
not belie its name, for as we approached it certainly 
looked inaccessible enough. No low land is apparent, 
and the whole rises sheer from the sea on every side. 
The weather was so uncertain that when sending the 
party of scientists ashore I gave instructions that stores 
sufficient for several days should be taken in the boat 
in case it should be impossible to pick the men up when 
we wanted to. The party took also biological and geo- 
logical gear, surveying instruments, two good Alpine 
axes and a coil of good Alpine rope. 

A landing was effected near the north-east corner, 
largely through the help of the Tristan islanders, whose 
intimate local knowledge proved of the greatest value 
during the whole time we spent about these islands. 
The beach was steep and stony, and big curling seas 
were breaking on it. Intervals of comparative calm 
occur, and by taking advantage of them a boat can be 
fairly easily beached. The landing effected and the 
gear removed, the boat was hauled up whilst the party 
went about their work. The beach is about a mile long 
and forms a very narrow strip, behind which the cliffs 
rise vertically for an average height of from three to 
four hundred feet. Half a mile to the south-east of the 
landing-place a narrow waterfall drops in a cascade over 
the edge of the cliff about three hundred and fifty feet 
up and has hollowed out a deep pool below. The ascent 
to the summit lies beyond this, and here Douglas, with 
John Glass and Henry Green, started the climb. These 

212 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

two islanders are strong, active, nimble men and won- 
derful climbers. Douglas gave them the greatest praise, 
and said that but for their assistance he could never 
have attained the summit. On one occasion during the 
descent they had to lower him over a particularly steep 
part with the rope. Douglas writes : 

Inaccessible Island is pear-shaped, the longer axis 
being about three miles and the shorter two and a half 
miles. The land rises around the island in almost 
vertical cliffs about five hundred feet high. On the 
south and south-east there is a gradual slope up to 
the highest point, which is about 1,500 feet above 
sea level. On the north and north-west sides the rim 
continues to rise to about 1,300 feet, and then it slopes 
down towards the interior and the foot of the slope 
of the central cone. In fact, it is a great caldera, 
with the southern side blown out and having a central 
small cone. 

The interior is really a beautiful landscape of 
broken country, clad in verdure with a stream running 
through it. 

Wilkins, assisted by Carr and Marr, carried out 
natural history investigations on the lower slope and 
shot a number of birds for preparation as museum 

During the years 1871-73 two brothers, Germans 
named Stoltenhoff, lived here. They gave their name 
to Stoltenhoff Island. Nightingale Island derives its 
name from the British navigator who visited it in 

All the islands of the Tristan da Cunha group have 
a similar flora and fauna. They are covered in parts 

The Tristan da Cunha Group 213 

with tussock grass (sfartina arundinacea) and bracken. 
One small tree, the ** Island tree " {phylica nitida), 
grows at levels up to about 2,000 feet. The smaller 
plants include twenty-nine species of flowering plants 
and twenty-six ferns and lycopods. Numerous seabirds 
nest on the islands, including mollymauks, terns, sea- 
hens or skua gulls, prions, black eaglets, " Pediunkers,'' 
and several kinds of petrel. On the rocky beaches we 
saw a number of small land birds, one species of which 
resembled a thrush and the other a finch. They were 
very tame and could be easily caught. The islanders 
showed us several rookeries where rockhopper penguins 
congregate in large numbers during the nesting season. 
The rockhopper is a pretty bird with a crest of yellow 
and black feathers. Its call is rather deep and harsh — 
" Aloh-ha ! " as nearly as I can write it. 

But for the difficulty of landing Inaccessible Island 
would be almost as suitable a spot for a small settlement 
as Tristan da Cunha. A few cattle are kept there. The 
islanders from Tristan make frequent visits in their 
boats. Experience has taught them what are the most 
suitable weather conditions for effecting a landing. It 
appears that the winds follow a fairly definite cycle, 
and the islanders can predict with some degree of 
certainty the conditions likely to be met with in the 
next few days. 

One has to give the islanders credit for their boat- 
manship, for their craft are frail and require the most 
careful handling to prevent their being stove in. 

Of the men taken with us on the Quest, Henry Green 
and John Glass had never been away from the islands. 
They were really two extremely nice men. Douglas 
writes of Henry Green who accompanied him : 

214 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

Henry proved to be a delightfully refreshing 
character. His simple outlook on life, facts being 
facts to him and needing no reason, the pride he took 
in his ability to climb and find his way over the 
islands, notwithstanding his years, and his love of 
his own hearth, marked him out as one of the best, if 
not the best, of those who live on Tristan. 

What a strange life they lead, passing day after day 
of their long lives in this restricted environment with 
the same outlook, amongst the same people and with 
only occasionally the sight of a new face, which passing, 
never returns, for no one ever goes back to Tristan. As 
Macklin shows, their longevity is remarkable; few seem 
to die under ninety years of age. 

I returned to the settlement via the southern side of 
Tristan to enable Worsley to carry out a series of sound- 
ings, and arrived there at daybreak on May 24th. We 
proceeded in through the kelp and came to anchor. 

I allowed most of the hands ashore for the day, and 
detailed a party to install a portable wireless receiving 
apparatus which Mr. Rogers, the missionary, had brought 
from Cape Town. One of the masts for the aerials 
broke whilst being erected, and the pieces fell amongst 
a crowd of islanders who had gathered to watch pro- 
ceedings, causing them to scamper wildly in all direc- 
tions. Mr. Rogers told me that he had not learned the 
code, and as there are several mechanical details to be 
mastered it is doubtful if the apparatus is likely to be 
of great value. 

I was up before daybreak on May 25th, to find that 
the wind had come round to the west and a strong swell 
had started to run into the anchorage. I saw that the 

The Tristan da Cunha Group 215 

sooner we were off the better, and blew the steam whistle 
for the recall of those who had spent the night ashore. 

When I had told Glass on our arrival that I would be 
able to leave a considerable amount of general supplies 
for the islanders, he had said that he did not think they 
had stock enough on the island to pay for it. When I 
replied that I did not require any payment, he was most 
agreeably surprised, and promised to send us two or 
three good sheep and some fresh potatoes. I had also 
asked for a number of geese and poultry with the idea of 
placing them on Gough Island in the hope that they 
would settle there and breed. 

The blowing of the steam whistle caused the most 
marked excitement amongst the islanders, who came 
rushing to their boats, which they launched, and, having 
rowed out to us, crowded aboard in dozens. Immedi- 
ately there was a noise like babel let loose. Many of 
them approached Bob Glass, saying : " Can't you get 
nothing more out of them. Bob ? " As I had emptied 
the holds and stripped the ship of everything I could 
spare, and in the name of Mr. Rowett given all the 
relief I could to these people, I was not very well 
pleased at their attitude. On my asking for the sheep 
and potatoes and the live stock for Gough Island they 
suddenly remembered that they owed us something in 
return, and dragged up from the bottom of the boat what 
looked for all the world like two large and skinny 
rabbits. They proved to be sheep, the most miserable 
creatures I had ever set eyes on. They dumped aboard 
also two bags of potatoes which in size resembled 
marbles and some very indifferent-looking geese and 
poultry. They seemed to lose all restraint and begged 
for anything which caught their eye or their fancy, each 

2i6 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

man trying to get in his request before his neighbour or 
endeavouring to overshout him. There were no longer 
any requests on behalf of the community, each man 
trying to scrounge what he could for himself. A boat- 
load containing some of the steadier men brought off 
six bags of mail, six bales of feathers and about nine 
bags of potatoes. These were dumped over our rail, 
and when I sent Macklin to find out what it was they 
had put aboard, they replied that they were parcels which 
they wished delivered to their friends in Cape Town 
who would send them something in return. These 
casual folk had made no arrangements and had not even 
addressed them sufficiently. 

Rain had started to fall and Macklin, who knowing 
nothing of their coming had not prepared a place for 
them in the hold, turned to a group of the islanders and 
asked for some help to put the bales in the shelter of the 
alleyway, where they would be protected from the rain. 
Not a man stirred, each saying it had nothing to do with 
him. Macklin had to search out each man in turn to 
help with his own bag for none of them would touch 
anything that did not belong to him personally. We 
were all thoroughly disgusted with their behaviour, and 
on this last morning they undid any good impression 
we had gained of them whilst ashore. 

One group of men brought me some bundles of 
whalebone which they asked me to buy for twenty 
pounds. As I had no idea of the value of the stuff I 
could not do it, but offered to take it to Cape Town and 
hand it over for disposal and have the value sent them 
in general goods. This arrangement they regarded with 
suspicion and tried hard to induce me to barter with 
them. It was a curious thing that all the islanders 

The Tristan da Cunha Group 217 

seemed to think that we had a mysterious bottomless 
store from which we could go on supplying quantities 
of pipes, tobacco, foodstuffs, etc. etc., in exchange for 
the most valueless trash. Knowing that as a community 
they stood in great need of copper nails for their boats 
I offered them a seven-pound bag, our all, which we 
could ill spare. No one man would burden himself 
with this on behalf of the community and it was finally 
left aboard. 

I made full allowances for the limitations of these 
people, but at last they became so troublesome that I 
ordered them back to their boats and got ready to put 
to sea. Just before the last lot left some of the older 
men came to me and thanked me for what we had been 
able to do. They included Henry Green, John Glass, 
Tom Rogers, Old Sam Swaine and Lavarello, the 
Italian. I told them that they must not thank me alto- 
gether, for they owed what I had given them to a man 
named John Rowett far across the sea in England. 
John Glass said in his high piping voice : '* You will 
see Mr. Rowett again.? Then tell him that he is the 
koindest man that I ever know." I promised I would. 
Bob Glass also brought me a letter which he wanted 
me to send to Mr. Rowett for him. In return I thanked 
them, etc. etc. Just before leaving I received a long 
letter from the missionary Mr. Rogers, in which he 
expressed the appreciation of the islanders and sent 
a message of gratitude to Mr. Rowett. 

Though very disgusted at the time with the behaviour 
of these people, I felt on more mature consideration 
that one could not fairly judge them by instances like 
this. They are ignorant, shut off almost completely 
from the world, horribly limited in outlook, and they 

2i8 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

realized that at this moment there was slipping away 
from them the only possible source of acquiring the 
many things they so badly needed. Indeed, looking 
back on the whole visit to Tristan da Cunha, I am sur- 
prised that they were not much more wild and uncivilized 
than we found them, and they were, I believe, at any 
rate the older men among them, really grateful for what 
we had been able to do. 

I think their characters may be somewhat roughly 
summed up by describing them as " a lot of grown-up 



WE arrived at Tristan da Cunha on May 20th, 
1922, just as dawn was breaking. A fine rain 
was falling and all the upper part of the island was 
shrouded in mist. The islanders seemed to be still in 
bed, for we saw no signs of activity until Commander 
Wild blew the steam whistle, which brought them run- 
ning from their houses in haste, evidently yery excited, 
for we saw them pointing towards us. The men ran 
down a steep winding path leading to a beach of black 
sand where a number of boats were drawn up. They 
launched the boats and came out towards us as fast as 
they could row. 

At first sight the people presented a curious 
spectacle. They were rather a wild-looking lot, and 
were clothed in every conceivable kind of male attire, 
which seemed to be the cast-off clothing of sailors who 
had called at the island. One man in particular was 
wearing the queerest mixture : an evening dress jacket, 
striped cotton shirt, dungaree trousers, whilst on his 
head was an officer's peaked cap ! 

The majority of them were white, but many showed 
signs of a coloured ancestry in a dusky complexion and 
features of a distinctly negroid type. 

Their boats attracted our attention, for they are 
made of canvas over a framework of wood. These are 
ingenious pieces of work and built on very shapely lines. 

* Dr. Macklin's account. 

220 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

The canvas is begged from passing ships. The cross- 
pieces are made from the branches of small, stunted 
apple trees which are grown on the island, but for the 
pieces which form the keel and the main part of the 
frame they are dependent on chance bits of driftwood 
thrown up on the beaches. 

On this day there was a considerable swell running, 
which made it dangerous for more than one boat to come 
alongside at a time, the others lying off at a safe distance. 
It was apparent that the islanders did not care to submit 
their frail craft to any more bumping than was necessary. 
In their excitement they made a tremendous noise, shout- 
ing to each other in voices which were curiously thin 
and high-pitched. 

As soon as the first boat came alongside a strong 
active man with a cheery face leapt on to our gunwale 
and clambered aboard. He told us his name was John 
Glass, and he seized those of us whom he could reach 
in turn by the hand, exclaiming in a piping voice that 
contrasted strangely with his powerful frame : " I'm glad 
to see you all. How are you.'* Have you had a good 
trip ? " Another man, taller and more slimly built, 
quickly followed him and made his way to the bridge. 
He was wearing an old khaki overcoat, and was shod 
on one foot with a worn-out leather boot and on the other 
with a sort of moccasin made of cowskin. Several others 
came aboard and started at once to ask for things, say- 
ing : " Say, Mister, you ain't got an old pair of boots, 
have you ? " or " Mister, I'm building a boat — can you 
spare a few nails? " " Mister, can I have a piece of salt 
beef ? " — always the prefix of " Mister," said in a most 
ingratiating tone. The requests were made to anybody 
whom they encountered, no matter how busily engaged. 

Tristan da Cunha 221 

When told to " Wait a little and we'll see what can be 
done," they would say, for example, " Well, my name's 
Swaine — young Sam Swaine, son of old Sam Swaine. 
You won't forget, will you ? " Often two or three of 
them bombarded one man at the same time, when they 
raised their voices, both in volume and pitch. They 
made themselves such a general nuisance in this way 
and, together with those in the boats, who kept calling 
continually to those aboard, raised such a pandemonium 
that Commander Wild approached John Glass and 
asked him if there was a " head-man *' of the island or 
recognized representative of the community. 

John Glass promptly replied, "I am ! " but con- 
tinued in the same breath, " There ain't no head-man 
now. Bob Glass, my brother — that's him on the bridge 
— he's head-man. Anyways, he's the best one for you 
to talk to. He's got the larnin' ! " Having " got the 
larnin' " meant that he could read and write. 

Bob Glass was told to remain on the ship. The rest 
were packed off into their boats and sent ashore to await 
the blowing of the steam whistle as a signal for their 
return. Glass, the tall, slim man who had made for the 
bridge, proved to be an intelligent fellow. We asked 
him to have breakfast with us. He accepted the invita- 
tion without embarrassment, and showed himself much 
more at ease than one would have expected from any- 
one living in so remote a part of the world. 

From him Commander Wild learnt that there had 
been only one ship to the island in the last eighteen 
months — a Japanese steamer, which had brought a 
missionary and his wife, but which had immediately pro- 
ceeded without letting them have supplies of any kind. 
Glass had made his way to the captain in the hope that 

222 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

an explanation of their needs and of their peculiar 
situation might induce him to allow them some stores, 
but he was promptly ordered off the ship. The captain, 
relenting a little at the last moment, gave him as a 
personal present a bundle of coloured postcards, all of 
them with the same picture — a very highly coloured 
impressionistic view of Fuji-yama, the sacred mountain 
of Japan ! They had received quite a considerable mail 
from people in the outside world who took an interest 
in this isolated community, but, as Glass remarked con- 
temptuously, " Chiefly clothes for the womenfolk." 
The missionary had brought some supplies, but, accord- 
ing to our informant, hardly enough for himself and his 
wife. The people were at the present time very badly 
off and were, indeed, destitute of what elsewhere might 
well be considered absolute essentials, such as articles 
of clothing, cooking and table utensils, wood, canvas for 
the upkeep of their boats, nails, tools, rope, wire, etc. 
For a long time they had been without luxuries in the 
way of food, such as tea, sugar, flour or biscuit, and 
commodities such as soap, .candles, etc. 

In the old days, said Glass, the settlement had been 
much better off, for ships had appeared within reach of 
their boats many times a year, and with them they had 
bartered live stock and potatoes, produced on the island, 
for what they themselves required in the way of general 
commodities. Nowadays, ships seemed to have entirely 
left the ocean, and they were in a bad way. 

He and his brother, John Glass, are direct descend- 
ants of Corporal William Glass, who founded the settle- 
ment. He accounted for his " larnin' " and general 
knowledge of conditions by the fact that he had been 
away from the island for eighteen years, had apparently 

Tristan da Cunha 223 

travelled a good deal on one job and another, and mixed 
with people. During the South African war he had 
served with Kitchener's Scouts, and had received the 
Queen's medal. We gathered that he was not lacking 
in common sense and had a pretty shrewd knowledge 
of the value of things. 

Of the truth of his statements with regard to the 
condition of the community there could be little doubt, 
and a yisit to the settlement made later in the day 
showed that he had not exaggerated. They made an 
earnest appeal to us for help, and Commander Wild 
decided to do all that was in his power to alleviate their 

We had, fortunately, on board a considerable 
quantity of bulk stores in the way of biscuits, flour, 
Brazilian meal, beans, etc., which had been kept in 
reserve in view of the possibility of our being frozen in 
and compelled to winter in the Antarctic. These Com- 
mander Wild offered to Glass, with as much as could be 
spared from our stores of a wide variety of foods, such 
as tea, sugar, coffee, cocoa, dried milk, Quaker oats, 
lentils, split peas, jam, chocolate, cheese, tinned meats, 
tinned fish, salt beef, candles, matches and soap. We 
gave them also from the deck stores a quantity of 
planking, rope, wire, nails, paint, canvas, and two 
good spars. 

In addition to this we had brought with us in the ship 
a large letter and parcel mail and numerous packages 
sent privately for the islanders, including several sent in 
gratitude by a sailor who had been shipwrecked there and 
who had been very kindly treated. We had a busy day 
getting all these goods out of the hold and stacking 
them along the ship's side ready to be placed in the 

224 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

boats. When all was ready we signalled the return of 
the others, who, as soon as they had approached to within 
a measurable distance of the ship, started shouting in- 
numerable questions to Bob Glass. The purport of them 
all was : " What are they going to give us ? " 

Glass clambered on to the gunwale of the ship and 
started shouting back in a high, piping voice. We saw 
their faces, which had worn a look of anxiety, suddenly 
break into smiles when they heard what we could do, 
and they became like a lot of schoolboys informed of 
a holiday, shouting gleefully to each other and singing 
snatches of song. Indeed, these people are very child- 
like in many of their ways. 

The loading was an awkward job. Everything had 
to be lowered slowly and carefully over the side and 
placed gently in the boats, for, being made of canvas 
and frail craft at best, anything dropped into them with 
a bump would assuredly have gone through the bottom. 
The difficulty was increased by the swell and the rolling 
of the Quest, which caused the boats to rise and fall and 
surge in and out in the most awkward manner. We were 
interested to note that many of the islanders who came 
aboard were sea-sick, but recovered when they clambered 
back into their own boats. Evidently they were used 
to the short, quick motion of the smaller boats, whilst the 
more pronounced roll of the Quest upset them. They 
plied to and fro till everything was ashore, where 
it was stacked in an imposing pile at the top of the 

After lunch I went ashore with Worsley and some 
others of the party. We went in an " island " boat. 
Worsley, known amongst the South Sea Islanders as 
" Tally ho," from his habit when approaching through 


sift' ut... 




F kotos : IVilkifis 

Fhoto : Dr. Mackun 


Photo: iVilkins 

Tristan da Cunha 225 

the surf of shouting the well-known hunting call, 
" Yoicks ! Tally ho, tally ho, tally ho-000-oh ! " insisted 
on taking the steer oar, and as the boat neared the beach 
raised his cry, to the amusement of the crew and the 
people on shore. They enjoy little jokes. On the beach 
there was a scene of activity. The goods were being 
loaded into small carts, each drawn by two bullocks. 
They were rough and primitive affairs. The wheels 
were made from sections of a tree which had been blown 
up on the island some years previously. The oxen were 
small but strong looking. 

The way from the beach led up a winding rocky 
pathway to the top of a cliff, and thence along to the 
settlement, distant about half a mile. 

Tristan da Cunha, in the greater part of its extent, 
is very mountainous, but on the northern side there is a 
stretch of flat land about six miles long and from half 
to one mile deep. Behind it rises the mountain, sheer 
and steep, to a height of from two to three thousand 
feet, from where it slopes more gradually to the summit. 
In front cliffs, fifty or sixty feet high, drop abruptly to 
the sea, but are broken here and there by beaches of 
black sand. 

The settlement, composed of a number of small 
stone cottages, is situated on the eastern end of the flat 
land, which is grass-covered and strewn with boulders. 
The western end provides good grazing ground for 
sheep and cattle, and in the sheltered spots small 
portions are set aside for growing potatoes. 

On the way we met several women and children. 
The women were well built and healthy looking, and 
wore, like the men, a variety of clothing. They also 
showed differences of colour and feature, one whom I 

226 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

noticed being quite blonde. The children are attractive, 
very quiet and demure in their deportment — what the 
islanders themselves call " old fashioned." I do not 
think their demureness was altogether due to the 
presence of strangers amongst them, for before I finally- 
left the island I had had a chance to observe them in 
their play and made friends with a number of them, but 
I never saw anything approaching boisterousness. 

In many respects the settlement differed little from 
an Irish village. Geese waddled about the common and 
showed their resentment of too close an approach with 
the usual hissing and stretching of the neck. All about 
were little pigs — long-nosed and lean-flanked, obviously 
not far removed in type from the original " wild pig " — 
which were rooting up the earth with their snouts. Each 
had an attendant fowl which accompanied it in its move- 
ments and picked at the newly turned earth. There are 
a number of dogs on the island, mongrel curs of which 
one would grudge even the admission that they were 
" just dog," and there seems to be a regular feud 
between them and the pigs. Whenever a dog, accom- 
panying his master on a walk, encounters a pig, it rushes 
up, barking furiously, and only desists when the pig, 
squealing violently, is stretched at full speed. The pig 
gets very angry, but immediately after goes on rooting. 
There was something very ludicrous about this little 
piece of byplay, which always provoked a laugh from us. 
On the slope behind the settlement a flock of sheep, 
numbering a hundred or so, was grazing. Here and 
there about the common I saw donkeys, all of them 
very diminutive. 

At the entrance to the settlement we came to a brisk 
little stream of clear water, which we crossed by a ford. 

Tristan da Cunha 227 

We were met by Mr. Rogers, the missionary, who had 
recently come to the island. 

Therd are in all about twenty completed houses and 
others of which the walls have been built, but which, 
from lack of material, have never been roofed over. 
The first one we came to belonged to Henry Green, a 
small, self-reliant man whom we had already met on the 
ship. He gave us a cordial invitation to come in at any 
time we cared. He had a small flagstaff, from which 
flew a Union Jack that had been presented to the 

Commander Wild had detailed me to stay on Tristan 
da Cunha whilst the ship proceeded to Nightingale and 
Inaccessible Islands, and I now made inquiries as to 
where I could stay. Bob Glass said immediately : " You 
come right 'long to my house, and Til tell my wife she 
got to look after you and give you everything she got, 
which ain't much, I may tell you." He now led me to 
it, and introduced me to his wife and family, which 
numbered eight — six boys and two girls. His wife, who 
was a second wife and not the mother of any of his 
children, was a very pleasant woman, with quiet, natural 
manners. She told me she would be glad to put me 
up for as long as I cared to stay on the island. The 
members of the family varied in age from a young man 
of twenty-two years — who was married and had two 
children of his own — to a bright lad of eight. The girls, 
aged twenty and seventeen respectively, seemed to be 
very pleasant, but had little to say, being, I think, rather 
shy and bashful in the presence of a stranger. Bob 
Glass said to me after : " That gel Wilet " — Violet, the 
elder — " she's a f oine gel ; me and she never had a cross 
word. But that there Dorothee — she's wery loively." 

228 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

Quite what form the liveliness took I never learnt, but 
his words led me to believe that Miss Dorothy was a less 
dutiful and obedient daughter than Violet. 

This house resembles all the other houses of the 
settlement, which are erected to more or less the same 
design, being long, low, oblong structures built of stones 
of considerable size and weight. The side walls are 
usually a little more than two feet thick, and the end 
walls are heavily buttressed. They all face the same 
way, so as to be end on to the prevailing winds, which 
blow at times with great strength and with sudden 
violent gusts. 

The roofs are composed of wooden beams, and are 
thatched over with tussock grass, which is made into 
bundles and lashed securely to the beams so that they 
overlap from above downwards. A layer of turf is 
placed to cover the apex where the two sides meet. The 
ceilings and floors are made of wood — odd pieces begged 
from ships, taken from packing cases or found along the 
seashore — collected only with much patience over a 
period of months or years before enough is accumulated 
for the purpose. Much of the planking in the older 
houses has been derived from ships wrecked on one or 
other of the islands. In the house of Mrs. Repetto there 
is a piece from the stern of a small vessel bearing the 
name Mabel Clarke which had gone ashore forty years 
previously. The insides of the stone walls are faced 
with wood in the same way. The space left between 
thatch and ceiling is used universally as a store room. 
Windows, except in the case of one of the houses, are 
on one side only, and face the sea to enable a good look 
out to be kept for passing ships. The exception is in 
the house just mentioned, that of Mrs. Repetto, whose 

Tristan da Cunha 229 

husband (deceased), an Italian sailor, survivor of a ship 
wrecked on the island, must have been a man of much 
ingenuity and practical ability, for the house is much 
better equipped and furnished in every way than any 
other in the settlement. 

Taken on the whole, the houses keep remarkably 
dry and are durable, though the tussock thatch often 
requires renewing in patches and the turf is often lifted 
away in the fiercer gales. They are divided, in the 
majority of cases, by a single wall into living-room and 
bedroom, but a few have an additional room. There is 
a fireplace at one end of the living-room made of stone, 
with two or three pieces of iron let in. In some of the 
houses the cooking is done in these fireplaces, but in 
others, especially where the family is a large one, an 
annexe is built on to the end of the house to act as a 
kitchen. In one or two of the better houses a separate 
kitchen is included in the main building. Each house 
boasts a table and some chairs, often very rickety, and 
most of them have also a wooden settee, or " sofa," as it 
is generally called. Some possess tablecloths and sofa 
covers and have a few bright pictures on the walls. 
Others are lacking in these luxuries, the walls being bare 
or adorned only with one or two tracts. As a rule the 
houses are kept clean, but in this they vary very much, 
depending upon the occupants. One must understand 
some of the difficulties they have in this respect. Brushes 
and brooms are a rarity ; they use whisks made from the 
" island tree," which answer only moderately well. They 
are often without soap, and when there is any on the 
island it has to be used with the greatest economy. 
Taking everything into consideration, I think they are 
to be congratulated upon what they achieve in this way. 

230 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

Rats came ashore from a ship called the Henry B. 
Paul, wrecked on the back of the island. They increased 
and multiplied so rapidly that they have overrun the 
place and are found in the lofts of every house. To 
combat them a few cats are kept, but whilst I was living 
ashore I preferred the company of the rats to that of the 
cats, which are most unpleasant brutes and more than 
half wild. 

Fleas swarm all over the settlement, and none of the 
houses seem to be wholly free from them. As a doctor, 
I had occasion to examine many of the people. Nearly 
all of them were extensively flea-bitten, but some seemed 
to have escaped their ravages. I found no trace of 
other body parasites. 

Any man starting to build a house here sets himself 
a difficult task. The stone is fairly easily obtained and 
set up. Boulders carried down from the mountain strew 
the lower slopes, and there are plenty in the neighbour- 
hood of the settlement. They are brought in by secur- 
ing them with chains to which bullocks are attached, the 
number of animals varying with the size of the boulder. 
They are dragged bodily over the ground, the work, 
however, being the easier in that most of the distance is 
down hill. Soft boulders are selected, and are cut to 
shape with small axes. A number of men sit or kneel 
about the boulder to be cut, chipping away little pieces 
in turn with rapid strokes of the axe. 

Wood presents to the prospective builder a much 
harder problem, and many a young man anxious to 
marry or a young married couple eager for their own 
home have to spend long weary months, or even years, 
in accumulating the wood necessary to make the roof, 
the ceiling or the floor. The shores, not only of Tristan 

Tristan da Cunha 231 

da Cunha, but also of Inaccessible and Nightingale 
Islands, are eagerly searched for driftwood. Especially 
is it difficult to collect the crossbeams, those in existence 
having come from wrecked ships. The islanders regard 
it as a regrettable fact that " wracks " are becoming more 
and more scarce. Many of the occupied houses are only 
partially ceilinged over, and have holes in the floor which 
their occupants are unable to complete or repair for lack 
of the necessary wood. The holes in the floor, if not too 
large, are covered by boxes in which belongings, the 
lares et fenates, are kept. 

When completed, the houses make snug little 
dwellings and adequately meet the needs of the 

As Commander Wild was not leaving for Inacces- 
sible Island till next day, I slept that night on the 
Quest, but told Mrs. Glass that I should come ashore 
the next day to stay. I felt that my board might be a 
bit of a burden to her, and was anxious to bring with me 
sufficient stores amply to cover my stay. 

The next day (May 20th) was beautifully fine, with 
bright sunshine. Commander Wild sent ashore the 
scientific staff, with assistants, to carry on their special 
work. Jeffrey verified the position of the settlement and 
took bearings of all the more salient points on the 
northern side of the island. Wilkins took his cameras 
and cinematograph machine, and had a busy day pho- 
tographing the people in the various stages of their 
work, family groups, cottages and, indeed, anything of 
interest. Carr made observations of the flat land to the 
west of the settlement with regard to its future useful- 
ness as a landing-place for aircraft. Douglas made 
an ascent to the peak of the mountain for geological 

232 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

purposes, whilst Mcllroy seized the opportunity of dis- 
cussing with Mr. Rogers, the missionary, meteorological 
work and observations. 

The most interesting event of the day was a parade 
of the Tristan troop of Boy Scouts, which was turned 
out for Commander Wild's inspection. The troop was 
instituted by Mr. Rogers on his arrival, and was, of 
course, still very raw. It was surprising to note how 
well these boys looked and how altered in appearance 
they were after changing from their nondescript gar- 
ments to the smart new uniforms. After considerable 
manoeuvring, they were finally drawn up on parade, 
when Marr, in full Scout uniform with kilt, formally 
presented a Scout flag specially sent out by Sir Robert 
Baden-Powell for this purpose. The boys felt a little 
bit overcome by the occasion and responded indifferently 
to the words of command, but under the circumstances 
any but the most friendly criticism would be unfair. The 
boys appeared to be keen, Mr. Rogers was keen, and 
it is probable that the next people to hold an inspection 
will see a very different turnout. Everyone on the island 
witnessed the ceremony, and all the women donned their 
best clothes for the occasion. I had thought that they 
would have taken a greater interest in the kilt, but they 
seemed hardly to notice it — unlike the women of France 
and Italy, who during the war were so fascinated by the 
Highland uniforms. Mr. Rogers and Marr had quite a 
lengthy talk on Scout matters. 

The islanders very hospitably looked after all who 
had come ashore, which included most of the crew of the 
Quest, inviting them to their houses for meals. Jeffrey 
and I had both lunch and dinner with Bob Glass, waited 
upon royally by Mrs. Glass, " Wilet " and '' Dorothee," 

Tristan da Cunha 233 

whilst a large number of peeping faces grouped them- 
selves about the door and windows. 

After the parade of Scouts Commander Wild went 
back to the ship. He permitted the others to stay longer, 
but gave instructions that they were to go aboard before 
dark. There was some delay, however, and to hurry 
them up he fired a detonator, which burst with a loud 
report and a spangle of stars and reverberated in 
numerous echoes from the hillside. The effect was 
extraordinary. Every living thing on the island was 
thoroughly startled; dogs bolted and yelped, girls and 
children screamed and ran for the houses, whilst sheep, 
pigs, geese and poultry scampered in all directions in 
the wildest confusion. 

Soon afterwards I saw the lights of the Quest pass- 
ing out in the direction of Inaccessible Island. With her 
went three of the islanders whom Commander Wild had 
taken to act as pilots and guides. They were Robert 
and John Glass and Henry Green. 

I had spent the day in seeing sick people or people 
who thought that, seeing a doctor had come to the island, 
they might just as well get him to have a look at them. 
The men came to see me at Robert Glass's house, and 
later Mrs. Glass conducted me on a tour of the settle- 
ment to see a number of women patients. There were 
numerous minor ailments : sprains, old fractures, or 
" brocks," as the islanders call them, which had reunited 
with serious deformity, rheumatism, and a condition they 
call " ashmere," meaning asthma. This seems to be the 
most prevalent complaint on the island. Taken on the 
whole, however, they are a very healthy little community. 

I had with me in my medical equipment a small port- 
able electric battery. In the evening a man named Tom 

234 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

Rogers, who had received an injury to his arm some 
time before, came for treatment, and I gave him some 
electrical massage. He was delighted with the sensa- 
tion, and made everyone who came to the house take the 
terminals and feel it also. I got several of them to join 
hands, and passed the current through all of them at one 
time. Tom Rogers kept sending for more and more 
people to " feel the electricity " until the house was full. 
Finding that the current passed through any part of the 
body that was touched, he determined to play a joke on 
a new-comer, suddenly touching his ear whilst a strong 
current was passing. The new-comer, Gordon Glass, 
who had never seen such a thing before, was consider- 
ably startled, to the great joy of all the others, who 
thoroughly appreciated the joke and retailed it all over 
the settlement, to my undoing, for I had to demonstrate 
the experiment again and again. 

I found that these islanders, when gathered together, 
were a genial, pleasant lot, very good tempered, and 
quick to see humour. Though intelligent in many 
respects, most of them had absolutely no interest in 
anything happening outside the island ; but, considering 
their isolated position and lack of communication with 
the rest of the world, together with their inability to read, 
this can easily be understood. 

Bob Glass had given his family instructions to put 
me in his bed and to clear out of the house and leave 
me to myself. Goodness knows where they went to. I 
turned in and quickly fell asleep, to awake very soon 
with a sensation that all was not well. The trouble 
proved to be a countless host of small marauders, which 
were very persistent and voracious. I had no more sleep 
that night. 

Tristan da Cunha 235 

The next day (Sunday, 21st) I was up early. Mrs. 
Glass brought me a cup of very strong black coffee with- 
out sugar or milk. Acting probably on her husband's 
instructions, she brought me also some hot water for 
shaving. This accomplished, I sallied forth to the clear 
brook and started sponging down, to find myself, much 
to my embarrassment, an object of interest to sundry 
small children of both sexes. 

Breakfast was served to me in solitary state, which 
was a disappointment, for I had hoped to sit down with 
the family. The meal consisted of mutton and potatoes, 
as did all the meals I had whilst remaining on the island. 
Mrs. Glass would have fed me on her share of the stores 
from the Quests but I told her I was tired of ship's food 
and wanted a change. 

The weather had changed; it was raining hard, and 
the wind having come round to the north-west, from 
which direction it blew up strongly, it looked as if a land- 
ing would not be effected on Inaccessible Island. I 
wondered what the Quest was doing — at least, I knew 
very well what she was doing, and felt glad I was on 
terra firma. 

I called on the Rev. and Mrs. Rogers, and later went 
to church, the service being held in the little schoolroom. 
It was well attended. One side of the room was filled 
by the women, who left their husbands to get in where 
they could. They looked well in their best cotton 
dresses, with bright-coloured handkerchiefs tied over 
their hair. This form of headgear is very picturesque, 
very practical, and eminently suited to this wind-blown 
island. I was accompanied by my hostess, and hoped 
to get a back seat where I could see all that was going 
on; but room being made for me on the front bench, I 

236 Shackleton*s Last Voyage 

was bound to accept. I regret to say that I was guilty 
of many turnings of the head. The service was short 
and simple. I was surprised at the hearty way in which 
everyone, both men and women, joined in the hymns, 
which, as most of them could not read, they must have 
learnt by heart. I was told that the wife of a previous 
missionary had taught them a number of the best-known 
hymns, and that the " New Missus " (Mrs. Rogers) was 
bringing them up to scratch again in their singing. A 
larger place is necessary, for the room was filled and 
several people hung about the door unable to find a seat. 
All the missionaries who have been on the island have 
tried to persuade the people to build a church for them- 
selves, but without success. 

After church I called on Gaetano Lavarello, one of 
the shipwrecked sailors from the Italia, a Genoese by 
birth. I spoke to him in his own language, which he 
understood, but found when he attempted to reply that 
he had lost the fluent use of his mother tongue, having 
for nearly forty years spoken nothing but English. He 
expressed himself as quite content with life on the island. 
He had married a Glass, and had several children. He 
said the thing he felt the lack of most was tobacco. He 
had not had a smoke for a long time, and asked me if I 
could give him some plug or a stick of hard tobacco, 
offering in exchange a sheep. He said : " I have the 
largest flock and the best sheep on the island, and I will 
give you a good one." Unfortunately, I had no tobacco, 
but told him I had no doubt that Commander Wild 
would give him some when the ship returned, and would 
not require the sheep. 

I then called on Mr. and Mrs. Rogers. They are 
known by the islanders as " Reverend Rogers " and 

Tristan da Cunha 237 

" The Missus," which names I adopted, for there are 
so many " Rogers " on the island as to be confusing. 
They asked me to have lunch, during which they told 
me of the difficulties and heavy expenses they had been 
put to in order to come out and take up their work on 
this island. Apparently it was an entirely individual 
enterprise, and the Church organization had taken no 
part in it at all. The first assistance of any sort which 
they had received was at Cape Town, where considerable 
interest is taken in this little outpost. 

The " Missus " was only nineteen years of age, and 
had had no previous experience to guide her in her 
preparations for the life she was to lead. It takes a lot 
of pluck for a woman to cut herself off from all home 
connexions and bury herself in a small spot like this, 
shut off entirely from the outside world, without guid- 
ance or counsel in the changes and chances which fall 
to the lot of every married woman. I admired the 
courage and enthusiasm with which she faced her self- 
imposed task, which included not only the instructing 
of the unwilling youth of Tristan da Cunha in clean- 
liness, morality and the " three R's," but also such 
multifarious duties as nurse, midwife, scribe, reader and 
general adviser to the womenfolk. 

In the afternoon I again visited some of my patients. 
One woman was really very ill and in need of hospital 
attention. I did my best to persuade her to go to Cape 
Town. The husband, on having things represented to 
him, was agreeable, but there were numerous objections. 
I asked " The Missus " to use her influence to persuade 
her to seize the chance of a passing vessel to go. It 
must be admitted that this reluctance to leave the island 
is natural. These people have no money and are not 

238 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

well off for clothes (I believe this was the chief objection 
in the mind of the good lady herself), and the leaving 
of the island to those who have known nothing else 
resolves itself into a great adventure into an unknown 

Commander Wild had asked me to take a census of 
the island, and this I proceeded to do, visiting the houses 
in turn. There was considerable vagueness about ages, 
and in many cases about names also. On more than 
one occasion a man (it was always the stupid male sex) 
did not seem clear about his own name, sometimes con- 
tradicting himself or appealing to bystanders for con- 
firmation. As may be gathered from the history of the 
settlement, with comparatively few exceptions everyone 
on the island is either a Glass, Green, Swaine or Rogers. 
Consequently, individuals are better known by Christian 
names than by surnames, which probably accounts for 
their vagueness. It is rather remarkable that with so 
few names amongst them the new chaplain should be a 

The history of Tristan da Cunha is interesting. The 
island was discovered in 1506 by a Portuguese navigator, 
Tristao da Cunha, from whom it takes its name, and 
though individuals on different occasions lived on it for 
short periods at a time, for three hundred years it 
remained nobody's property. It was formally annexed 
by Great Britain in 18 16, and a garrison, consisting of 
about one hundred men, placed there, with the object of 
resisting any attempt by foreign Powers to use it as a 
base of operations for the rescue of Napoleon from 
St. Helena. The garrison remained for a year only. 
Corporal Glass, of the Royal Artillery, a native of 
Kelso, in Scotland, asked for, and received, permission 

Tristan da Cunha 239 

to stay. He had married a coloured woman from Cape 
Colony, and had at the time two children. It was no 
doubt the possession of this black wife that chiefly 
influenced his decision. He was joined by Alexander 
Cotton and Thomas Swaine, two members of the relief 
ship. This little party was augmented by some ship- 
wrecked American whalers, but none of them remained 
long, the only names persisting to-day of the original 
settlers being Glass, Swaine and Cotton. Some twenty 
years later Pieter William Green, a Dutchman, was 
wrecked on Inaccessible Island, and having made his 
way to Tristan da Cunha, elected to remain. About the 
middle of the century two American whalers, Rogers and 
Hagan, also settled there, and more recently, within the 
present generation, two Italian sailors, Andreas Repetto 
and Gaetano Lavarello, survivors cast upon the shores 
from the wreck of the sailing ship Italia^ were so deter- 
mined never again to risk their lives upon the ocean that 
they also threw in their lot with the islanders and stayed. 
Of the original settlers, only Glass was married. 
The others obtained wives through the good offices of 
the captain of a whaling vessel, who brought five women 
from St. Helena. It was a funny way of choosing their 
mates, and the islanders of to-day speak of the incident 
as a great joke, guessing at the feelings of their great 
grandsires when they went to meet their brides and 
speculating upon the methods adopted in the selection. 
Occasionally the settlement has been temporarily aug- 
mented by other shipwrecked sailors, who seized an early 
opportunity to get away in some passing ship. There is 
evidence to show that they introduced a certain amount 
of new blood amongst the islanders, for some of them 
had children which were born after their departure. No 

240 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

new names were introduced, however, for the children 
adopted the names of the mothers. This factor must be 
taken into account when considering the effects upon the 
present generation of intermarriage and consanguinity. 

The original garrison brought to the island a con- 
siderable quantity of live stock in the shape of cattle, 
sheep, pigs, geese, poultry, donkeys and goats, and were 
responsible for the laying down of the " potato patches," 
small walled-in potato gardens situated about two miles 
to the west of the settlement under the lee of some high 
mounds. The live stock throve, and there are repre- 
sentatives to-day of every species except the goats, which 
took to the hills, but were destroyed by the heavy torrents 
which rapidly form and sweep down the gullies whenever 
there is heavy rain. 

From time to time attempts have been made to intro- 
duce corn, maize and vegetables of different sorts, but 
owing to the violent winds which prevail they have never 
been a success. Practically the only vegetable grown 
in useful quantity to-day is the pumpkin, and this is in 
no great abundance. In the sheltered gullies at the 
back of the island there are some very stunted apple 
trees which produce small crops of apples. 

The herds, from which they derive their supply of 
meat, milk and butter, and the potatoes have met the 
chief food requirements of the islanders, but for every- 
thing else they have relied upon trade with passing 
merchant ships and whalers. 

In the days, not very remote, when a number of sail- 
ing ships were making the Australian passage round the 
Cape of Good Hope and during the period of whaling 
activity, the islanders throve, for the ships were glad to 
obtain fresh meat and potatoes, and gave in exchange 


Photos: Dr. Macklin 


Tristan da Cunha 241 

things of general value, such as clothes, tools and 
materials, and flour, sugar, tea and soap. With the 
establishment of fixed whaling stations ashore and the 
rapid disappearance of sailing ships in favour of 
steamers, which are more or less independent of winds 
and follow fixed routes, carry refrigerating plants, and 
to whom delay means loss of money, this trade by barter 
has languished and died away. They are a prolific 
people. The population has increased and is likely to 
increase more rapidly with every generation, so that 
their needs to-day are greater than they have ever been 
since the foundation of the settlement. 

For this history of the island I am indebted to Miss 
Betty Cotton, an interesting old lady of ninety-five years, 
to whom I paid many visits. In spite of her age she is 
still very bright and active, with a clear memory for past 
events, of which she took a pleasure in narrating to me 
the salient facts I have set down, together with a wealth 
of more intimate detail which might well fill a volume. 
In everything which it was possible to yerify I found her 
to be very accurate. Indeed, she was really a wonderful 
old lady, for she still moved actively about the settle- 
ment on fine days. She regretted, however, that she was 
no longer able to face the fiercer gusts of wind and her 
sight was very bad. She asked me to give her some 
pills, not because she felt ill, but had, I suppose, the 
general impression that some pills would do her good. 

It is extraordinary how all the inhabitants carry their 
age, many of those who should normally be entering the 
" sere and yellow " being still bright and active and in 
appearance middle-aged. Many middle-aged people, 
in the same way, give the appearance of youth. This 
applies to both sexes, but more particularly to the men. 


242 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

Certainly in this island, situated " far from the mad- 
ding crowd," there is little of the nerve-racking wear 
and tear of modern civilization. Freedom from epidemic 
diseases, the impossibility of over-indulgence in tobacco, 
alcohol or faked-up foods, the pure atmosphere and the 
healthy open-air life which they are compelled to lead 
are, no doubt, factors in producing this longevity. 


TRISTAN DA CUNHA (continued) ' 

A GAIN during the night I was attacked by marauders, 
/jL which allowed me little rest. In the morning, 
after breakfast, I took a walk out along the bluff to 
see if I could pick out through my binoculars any 
signs of the Quest at Inaccessible Island. It was too 
misty to get a clear view, but as there was a strong nor'- 
westerly wind and a heavy swell with much surf, which 
would have made a landing there quite impossible, 
it did not seem likely that they would be successful. 
I was followed out from the settlement by the husband 
of the woman whom I wanted to go to Cape Town. He 
was anxious to discuss further the possibilities. Poor 
fellow ! he was very concerned for his wife's welfare. I 
went with him to his house, which is one of the cleanest 
and neatest on the island, situated some little distance 
from the rest of the settlement, to see my patient again. 
Some mischievous though probably well-meaning body 
at home had sent her a large supply of pills, with which 
she had been drugging herself heavily. 

The morning was wet and squally, so I did not go 
far from the settlement, but walked about watching the 
men and women at their work and inducing the children, 
by sundry small bribes of chocolate, to come and talk to 
me. They were wonderfully free from shyness. Later, 
I called on *' Reverend Rogers " and " The Missus." 
At I2.0 noon the day cleared, and so I set off with 

^ Dr. Macklin's account. 

244 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

Frank Glass, one of Bob Glass's sons, to climb the 
mountain face. My companion, aged seventeen years, 
was a bright, cheery youth with a firm belief that there 
could be no place in the world like Tristan da Cunha nor 
such an all-round lot of fine fellows as the " Tristanites." 
He expressed, however, a willingness to leave the island 
and see something of that other place, " the world," but 
would seize an early chance to come back again. 

We crossed the settlement and the land lying behind 
it, passing at the foot of the mountain the springs from 
which the water supply is derived. In this respect the 
people are well off, for the water is good and beautifully 
soft. The original garrison, in order to divert the water 
past the houses, had built a canal, which in some places 
passed through little tunnels in the hillocks, and was 
quite a small feat of engineering. The volume is con- 
siderable, and the water running to the cliff edge falls to 
the beach in a good-sized cascade, which makes a useful 
mark for ships looking for the landing-place. 

The ascent of the mountain lay first up a steep, 
grassy, boulder-strewn slope, from the top of which we 
made a traverse across the face of the mountain to a 
ridge where the climbing was steep, but where there was 
good hand- and foot-hold. We zigzagged up this for 
several hundred feet. There was abundant vegetation, 
numbers of ferns, including a species of tree fern, tus- 
sock and other forms of grass, mosses, lichens and the 
" island tree " {phylica niiida\ a gnarled and stunted 
tree which is found all over the island and which offers 
firm holding for climbers. There were also on the 
lower slopes a number of field daisies, or marguerites, 
and a species of wild geranium bearing a small flower 
with a pleasant aromatic smell. To another plant my 

Tristan da Cunha 245 

guide gave the name of " dog-catcher," because during 
the summer it grows a sort of '' burr " which catches in 
the hair of the dogs and is very hard to remove. 

Our route followed a faint but definite track which is 
used constantly by the islanders in their search for wood 
to burn, and in the season for the eggs of mollymauks 
and other seabirds which nest there. Even the women 
make this ascent. 

We crossed several bold rocky bluffs and gullies. 
Nowhere was there any danger, provided reasonable 
care were used, but in one or two places one crept along 
dizzily poised ridges where a false or careless step would 
have been sufficient to precipitate one to a drop of two 
or three thousand feet. 

Near the top we were enveloped by dense mist 
accompanied by squalls of rain. Everything was 
obscured, and so we returned to the scrub, where we 
built a shelter from branches of the " island tree,'' under 
which I sat and talked with Frank Glass. For one with 
such a limited outlook, this young man had very 
advanced ideas on life in general. He told me quite 
cheerfully that the island was faced with starvation and 
ruin. He also remarked that it would not do to go on 
marrying each other, and that they needed new blood. 
I recognized many of his expressions, however, as those 
of his father. Bob Glass. 

Our shelter after a while ceased to be effective, and 
the water started pouring through in little rivulets. 
There were no signs of the weather clearing, so we 
descended some distance and made a traverse to a high 
projecting rock known as ''The Pinnacle." This is a 
high, straight mass crowned with a little vegetation. It 
is inaccessible except by a tunnel running up the middle 

246 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

and emerging at the top, up which we scrambled with 
free use of elbows and knees. Here we were out of the 
mist, and had a fine bird's-eye yiew of the flat part of 
the island and the settlement. The sea, edged with a 
long irregular line of white where the surf was breaking 
on the shore, stretched like a flat board to a dim, far- 
distant horizon. 

We were now in bright sunshine, and I felt quite 
content to lie, chin in hand, gazing at the tiny objects 
far below; but whilst I was enjoying the view the mist 
came down the hill and again enveloped us. We there- 
fore descended to the settlement, where we arrived 
soaked to the skin. 

I noticed a large crowd collected about one of the 
houses, and so, having put on dry clothes, I approached 
to see what was happening. I found that the islanders 
were engaged in dividing up the goods we had sent 
ashore into approximately equal lots. 

They have a system of their own for dealing with 
common stores. When the boats go out to a ship barter 
is first of all carried out in the name of the community 
for such stores as tea, sugar, flour, etc. Each family in 
turn provides whatever goods are necessary for these 
exchanges in the way of cattle, sheep, geese or potatoes. 
When this has been done, the individuals who have 
manned the boat may barter with their own goods for 
any particular article which they or their families may 
require. This includes articles of clothing, general 
household utensils, knives, wood, nails, etc. In ex- 
change they can give of their own live stock or polished 
horns, mats made from penguin skins, socks knitted by 
the women, shells and other curios. The goods brought 
ashore in the name of the community are divided equally 

Tristan da Cunha 247 

amongst the families irrespective of the size of the 
family, so that a man with eight or nine children draws 
no more than a man who has none. 

Everything that is divisible is divided up even to 
the smallest amounts, so that one family's share of rice, 
for example, may amount to no more than one spoonful ! 
One single piece of soap has been known to be divided 
into eight pieces ! Things which are obviously in- 
divisible, such as stone jars, baskets, pots and pans, tins 
or sacks, are made up into little batches of as nearly as 
possible equal value and allotted by the system of say- 
ing " Whose ? " In carrying this out one person points 
in turn to each batch, saying " Whose ? " whilst another, 
blindfolded or with back turned, answers the name of 
one of the families. It is a very fair system. Supposing 
that there are only twelve lots and twenty families to 
draw, the caller shouts " Whose ? " twenty times, occa- 
sionally indicating a blank by pointing at the ceiling or 
floor. No name, of course, is called twice. The women 
adhere very rigidly to this division of goods, even to the 
extent of quantities which are valueless. The men, on 
the other hand, occasionally decide to own things jointly, 
such as spars, chains, tools or implements, or where a 
thing is obviously of use to one man only — e.g. an empty 
cask — they will agree to take turns in acquiring it. Also, 
a man who is collecting wood for his house will be 
allowed to have for his own use one or more packing- 
cases on the understanding that he must compensate 
in one way or another later on. No written note is 
made, but they seem to have tenacious memories in this 

Again, in the case of an article which has been blown 
up on the island too heavy or bulky to be dealt with by 

248 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

the finder alone, such as a large tree or a stranded whale, 
those who help to bring it to the settlement participate 
equally in what profit may result from it. 

This system was evolved by the patriarchs of the 
community, men such as Corporal Glass, the founder, 
and Pieter William Green, each of whom was for long 
the virtual head of the island. On the whole it is a very 
fair one, and even though it seems unjust that the large 
families should share equally with the small ones, it must 
be remembered that the small family, when it comes to 
its turn to find the goods for barter, has to bear an equal 
brunt with the larger. Children also are not regarded 
as a handicap, but as an asset, for from the time they 
are able to run about and drive sheep or geese they work 
for their living. In England one's income does not vary 
with the number of children, and a bachelor employee 
receives the same wages as a married man if he does 
identical work. 

On this particular occasion the work of dividing was 
going on merrily, and the young people and children 
were kept busy running to and from the houses with the 
shares. The missionary and his wife were acting as 
umpires at the " sheering " (they pronounced long " a " 
as " ee "). When it was over I returned with Mr. and 
Mrs. Rogers to their house, and sat talking for a while. 
They brought their house with them from England, cut 
in sections all ready for putting up. It is small but snug. 
Their chief fear in connexion with it is that it may be 
lifted and carried away by some of the fiercer gusts of 
wind, and they were proposing to have it walled over 
with stone. They were very wise in bringing their own 
dwelling, for the housing problem is as difficult in Tris- 
tan da Cunha as it is in England in these post-war days. 

Tristan da Cunha 249 

Whilst I was sitting and talking darkness set in. The 
wind outside was blowing hard, with sharp rain squalls. 
Mrs. Glass, accompanied by one of her family, thinking 
I might be lost, set out on a pilgrimage round the settle- 
ment in search of me, and was relieved when I was 
discovered to be all safe and sound. She said that get- 
ting about was awkward for a stranger, and thought I 
might have walked past the house (which is the lowest of 
the settlement) and fallen over the cliff. She said : " You 
stop now and finish your talk with the Missus, and I'll 
tell Tom Rogers (who lived near by) to bring you down 
when you are ready." The latter had supper with us. 
He is a pleasant, talkative fellow. Mrs. Glass says he 
will talk all day to anyone he can get to listen to him. 
" Usually," she says, " grown-ups is too busy, so he has 
to talk to one of the children." 

In the course of conversation Tom Rogers said that 
he was going to the back of the island to " turn over " 
his cattle. By " turn over " he meant drive them from 
one pasturage to another. I asked if I might accompany 
him. He was willing, but thought that I might find it a 
bit far, as it entailed a considerable walk and a good deal 
of climbing. I smiled to myself, thinking that I could 
hold my own well enough with any islander, more 
especially as Gordon Glass, a slim-looking young fellow, 
was also to join the party. I was to have my eyes 
opened, however. 

After Tom Rogers had gone " Wilet " and 
" Dorothea " came in. Mrs. Glass went to the door and 
called into the darkness : " Come in, don't be shoi ; no 
one ain't going to hurt you ; come in, they'se both in ! " 
Whereupon after a good deal more urging two very 
sheepish-looking youths entered, and planting them- 

250 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

selves down on a form said no word at all but gazed 
across at the two girls. It seemed to me that I was 
very much de trop, and not wishing to be in any way a 
spoil-sport, I made some excuse to go out. It was not 
a pleasant night, being cold, and there was a slight 
drizzle. After about half an hour of stumbling blindly 
into every quagmire on the common, crossing the stream 
at its deepest and most slippery part, and causing all 
the dogs in the settlement to bark, I decided that I had 
been '' sporting " enough and returned to find them in 
exactly the same attitude as I had left them. Later on, 
touching on the subject to Mrs. Glass, she remarked : 
" Oh, they'se been coming every night like that for years, 
but Mr. Glass he ain't going to let none of the gels marry 
till they'se twenty-one." 

I had with me in my medical equipment a small bottle 
of essential oil of lavender, and with it I plentifully 
sprinkled my bedding in the hope that it would keep 
away the fleas. I believe they liked it, and the only 
result achieved was that I acquired a distaste for the 
smell of lavender which will probably last my lifetime ! 
However, as a result of my exercise in climbing, I slept 

In the morning at 8.0 a.m. Tom Rogers, Glass and I 
set off for the back of the island. The road, a mud track, 
ran westwards, and led across a deep gulch which had 
been cut some years previously by a torrent from the 
mountain. We had a stiff wind against us, which, in a 
narrow passage between a big bluff and the side of the 
mountain, blew in gusts, against which it was hard work 
to force a way and which occasionally drove us back a 
step or two. Behind the bluff were several pyramidal 
grass-covered mounds, in the shelter provided by which 

Tristan da Cunha 251 

are the " potato-patches." They consist of small walled- 
in areas, the walls serving to protect the plants from the 
force of the winds, which have a yery deleterious effect 
upon the " tops." This is amply demonstrated by com- 
paring those in well-protected areas with those which are 
more exposed, the latter being stunted, dry and withered 
looking. The potatoes are planted in September and 
early October, and taken up in February. They are 
small in size, but otherwise of good quality. At the time 
of my visit (late May) the islanders were engaged in 
collecting seaweed from the shore and conveying it in 
bullock-carts to the patches, where it is allowed to rot, 
mixed with sheep manure, and placed on top of the 
potatoes when they are planted. The manure is 
obtained by corralling the sheep and leaving them 
closely penned in for twenty-four hours. We passed 
across several more gulches and encountered some broad 
patches of stone which had been swept down out of the 
hills during the rains. 

The soil in this part of the island is better than that 
at the settlement, and provides a flat grassy plain, giving 
good grazing for the sheep and cattle which are dotted 
all about its surface and climb up into the lower slopes 
of the mountain. Both are small, but of fairly good 
quality, the meat which I tasted on the island being 
tender and of good flavour. A number of the cattle had 
calves, which were pretty little creatures. 

On this part of the island the land ends in short 
cliffs, at the foot of which are numerous narrow beaches 
on which, as we went along, a heavy surf was breaking, 
looking pretty in the sunlight and having a pleasant 

About five miles from the settlement the flat ground 

252 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

ends in a high straight bluff running steeply down to 
the sea. To get round this we had to ascend the moun- 
tain, having a steep climb of about two thousand feet. 
The cattle and sheep, to get to the back of the island, 
have to make this climb, and there is a narrow track, 
worn by them, which zigzags upwards, passing across 
places where one single slip would mean destruction for 
the animal. I am told that very few of them fall. They 
must be amazingly sure-footed. 

On several occasions as we wound along my com- 
panions pointed out to me in some of the sheltered 
gullies what they called " orchards," little clumps of 
apple trees so small, bush-like and stunted as to be 
almost unrecognizable. Nevertheless, each year they get 
small crops of apples from them. I tasted some, and 
found them to have quite a good flavour. It is from 
these trees that the cross-pieces for their boats are made. 
The vegetation in the gullies is very luxuriant, and the 
grass, being sheltered from the winds, grows lush and 
long. Far below the clefts ended in little bays, where we 
caught glimpses of the surf breaking in creamy ridges 
against the shore. We continued upwards, and came 
suddenly to a sharply defined ridge above a steep preci- 
pice across which the wind blew strongly. We threw 
ourselves on our faces and peered over the edge, and got 
a view of the " back of the island." Far below us was a 
flat grassy plain with many cattle grazing, and away out 
to sea we saw Inaccessible and Nightingale Islands. I 
carefully scanned their base lines through my binoculars 
for any signs of the Quest, but the day was too hazy to 
permit of a clear view. 

Tom Rogers proposed to descend from here to the 
plains to " turn over " his cattle, but, having climbed so 

Tristan da Cunha 253 

far, I was anxious to continue up till I could get a clear 
view of the top of the mountain, so he good-naturedly put 
off the job to another day, and we went on upwards, 
laboriously working through long tussock-grass and thick 
masses of tree fern. 

These men with whom I had thought to hold my own 
so easily seemed to be absolutely tireless, and they took 
a keen interest in the outing and in showing me all 
things of interest. 

Here and there we came across little bundles of 
branches cut from the " island tree." These were loads 
in process of being collected to be taken finally to the 
settlement for firewood. 

Some of the branches which went to the formation 
of these bundles had to be dragged for a considerable 
distance across the face of the cliff, often only with the 
utmost difficulty. They are collected eventually at a 
point above a gully which will give a clear drop to a 
point thousands of feet below, where they can be 
gathered up and loaded into bullock-carts for taking 

Through my binoculars I could see men at work all 
about the ridges, and I was deeply impressed by the 
hardihood of the life they must lead in having thus to 
fare abroad for their daily needs. 

Gordon Glass had with him his dog, which occasion- 
ally discovered a " pediunker," a species of seabird 
which frequents the island and about this time of year 
is preparing to nest. They lay in holes in the hillside, 
and a search was made for a chance egg, though it was 
still early in the season for them. We allowed the birds 
to go free. 

We reached at last a point where the heavier vegeta- 

254 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

tion ended and the hill was covered with a rather coarse 
grass interspersed with patches of moss. It was very 
damp. From here we had a fine view, and the air was 
keen and cold. We descended by another route, which 
led eventually to a cattle track where the going was 
easier, but the steepness and tortuosity of which again 
impressed me with the remarkable climbing powers of 
the animals. 

Reaching the plain again, we set off at a good round 
pace for the settlement, where I arrived, I am not 
ashamed to say, pleasantly fatigued with the day's out- 
ing, whilst my companions seemed to think they had 
. done nothing out of the way. I mention this particularly 
I because it has been stated from time to time by visitors 
I that these islanders are becoming a decadent lot and are 
suffering from the results of intermarriage and con- 
[ sanguinity. That they are physically decadent is not 
J' true. Taken on the whole, they are of medium height 
and slimly built, but they are very tough and wiry. John 
Glass, whom I have already mentioned as having been 
the first man aboard the Quest is a powerful man. Some 
of the elderly men of fifty years or thereabouts are 
wonderfully nimble and active. They are hardy walkers 
and climbers, and in their attempts to reach passing ships 
are often compelled to row long distances against heavy 
winds — a procedure which requires plenty of stamina. 

Speaking of them collectively, they are not good 
workers, and attempts to get them to work together in 
an organized way for their mutual profit have not been 
successful. An attempt was made some years ago by a 
Cape Town firm to introduce a fish-curing industry and 
to get them to export sheep, but the islanders did not pull 
together and the scheme failed. They themselves give 

Tristan da Cunha 255 

as a reason that they were being exploited and that the 
return was totally inadequate. 

It is possible that due consideration was not given to 
their insularity and limitations of outlook, and that the 
use of a little more patience and diplomacy might have 
met with better results. I doubt very much, however, 
whether these islanders would ever settle down to a daily 
routine of work, having all their lives been more or less 
their own masters and able to decide when th^y shall or 
shall not work. Nevertheless, the necessities of life com- 
pel that the days spent at home be few, and the qualities 
of hardihood to which I have referred are not developed 
by doing nothing. 

It has been stated also that through intermarriage 
there are numerous signs of deformity and mental 
degeneration. There are xery few of these signs. As 
to mental degeneration, I considered these islanders to 
be very intelligent. They are uneducated, limited in out- 
look, and generally " insular," but how could they be 
anything else in their peculiar circumstances ? They are 
bright, quick to see humour and enjoy a joke, and are 
morally much sounder than many civilized peoples. 
They live on good terms, with little quarrelling, crime is 
unknown, and petty misdemeanours are rare. 

One youth is dumb and is peculiar in manner, but 
works and carries out ordinary duties with quite average 
intelligence. Of deformities : one old woman (the island 
midwife) has two thumbs on each hand, but is otherwise 
normal. One man, a particularly noticeable case, has 
stunted arms, with ill-developed hands and absence of 
some fingers. Otherwise, he is strong, level-headed and 
intelligent, works as a shepherd, and in his duties roams 
far and wide over the hills. There are no other signs of 

256 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

mental or physical degeneration. The man with the 
stunted arms is able to do wonderful things, can carry 
small packages, hold a cigarette, feed himself, and, most 
extraordinary of all in this community of illiterates, can 
write. He was taught by a former missionary to the 
island, Mr. Dodgson (brother of Lewis Carroll, author 
of " Alice in Wonderland "). It is surely a triumph of 
patient teaching. In carrying it out, the paper is placed 
on the floor and the man lies down. Though the writing 
IS large and scrawly, it is legible. 

I devoted as much time as possible to conversation 
with different people, trying to learn what I could of their 
manners and customs. 

In religion they are mostly Protestant, but there are 
some who were baptized as Roman Catholics at Cape 
Town. There is, however, no distinction made between 
the religions, and they intermarry. There have been 
several Protestant missionaries on the island at one time 
and another, but never a Roman Catholic priest. Young 
men and women wishing to marry select their own mates 
by mutual agreement and are uninfluenced by their 
parents. The marriage service is conducted (in the 
absence of a missionary) by Bob Glass, who reads it from 
the Prayer Book. There is generally no fuss and no sort 
of function, but occasionally they have a dance after- 
wards in one of the houses. All the women go to hear 
the marriage service read, and such of the men as are 
about and have nothing better to do. I noticed in talk- 
ing of weddings that the women spoke with an absence 
of enthusiasm and showed none of the interest that such 
a subject would arouse amongst civilized feminism. 

Frequently it happens that a couple do not become 
married until after a child has been born; often a 


Photos: Wilkins 



The Union Jack was piesentcd by the British Government to the Islanders for bravery in saving 

lives from shipwreck 

Photos: Wilkins 


Tristan da Cunha 257 

considerable period elapses. They are not, however, 
" marriages of necessity." A young man in Tristan da 
Cunha is very peculiarly placed. There are no jobs or 
trades or form of employment in the ordinary sense. 
There is no currency. If any individual wants help, his 
neighbours give him a hand, during which time he is 
expected to feed them. A young man, therefore, can 
acquire nothing except as a gift from his parents. In 
many ways it may not suit his parents to allow him to 
marry, for it means, first of all, another family on the 
island drawing a full share of common goods. It means 
also the loss of an adult worker. Again, they may not 
be in a position to spare him anything in the way of 
household goods, and, if he has not already built a house, 
it means a wife and any family he may have quartered 
upon them. So the young couple use compulsion, for 
with the advent of the child the parents think it is time to 
make a move, and present the pair with a cow, a sheep 
or two, and a few household necessities to enable them 
to make a start. Until the formal marriage takes place, 
the child takes its mother's name, and so it occasionally 
happens that a bewildered tot of three or four year^ of 
age suddenly finds one day that, instead of being 
Tommy Green, its name has become Tommy Swaine, or 
vice versa, as the case may be. 

Promiscuity is not common and morals, on the whole, 
appear to be remarkably good, though to the casual 
observer the reverse might seem to be the case. The 
remarks in " Sailing Directions " seem to me to cast an 
unfair stigma upon the islanders. 

In some ways they are very casual. Appointments 
are rarely kept punctually, and they are apt to put things 
off for another day. 

258 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

In the hours of rising and going to bed they are 
governed by the sun. The only form of artificial illumin- 
ation known to them is candle-light, and frequently they 
have no candles. They have, as a rule, three meals a 
day, which they take at times convenient on any one day. 
The men seek to avoid going out to work in wet weather, 
but at times — for instance, in the potato season — ^they 
fare forth before dawn so as to be ready for work the 
moment daylight appears, and do not return till dusk. 
On these occasions it is the duty of the womenfolk to 
take them out their meals. 

There is an island custom that when the men have 
been engaged on an arduous piece of work at some dis- 
tant part of the island or have had a heavy day in the 
boats, the women come out to meet them on their return 
with something hot to drink. Indeed, the women are by 
no means idle, for they have all the inside housework, 
cleaning, cooking, mending, sewing and washing of 
clothes, to do. They card the fleece from the sheep into 
wool and twist it into strands, using for the purpose old- 
fashioned wheels which are manufactured with much in- 
genuity from all sorts of odds and ends of wood and 
metal. They knit excellent socks of pure wool, which 
are soft and comfortable to wear. Usually, also, they 
take charge of the geese and poultry, and, of course, 
have the children to look after. They frequent each 
other's houses a good deal, but there are one or two who 
keep to themselves and do not encourage visiting. 

Sanitation is very much neglected. Closets do not 
exist, and the present clergyman had the greatest diffi- 
culty in getting one built for his own house. Animals 
are slaughtered in close proximity to the houses, and no 
proper steps taken for the removal of entrails and offal. 

Tristan da Cunha 259 

which are left for the dogs to eat. Nothing is done to 
protect the water supply, which is derived from open 
streams that have been diverted to pass close to the 
houses, and the water becomes fouled before it reaches 
the lower parts of the settlement. Nevertheless, the 
settlement compares favourably in this respect with many 
of the remote villages in European countries. 

The people are very free from sickness of any kind, 
which is probably due to their simple mode of life and 
the absence of any epidemic diseases. They escaped the 
widespread epidemic of influenza. It is likely that any 
infectious disease introduced would run rapidly through 
the whole community. They say that almost invariably 
when a ship has visited the island " colds " run the round 
of the settlement. 

Maternity cases are dealt with by an old midwife, 
who adopts the wise policy of leaving things very much 
to Nature. 

This strange little community is run without any laid- 
down system of government. There are no written laws. 
In the early days of the settlement Corporal Glass, 
Pieter Green and William Rogers in turn ruled in patri- 
archal fashion, all disputes being referred to them for 

By a process of evolution certain customs and un- 
written laws have come into use and are, perhaps, more 
rigidly adhered to than any definite written rulings. 
Crime does not seem to exist. In the history of the 
island there has been one case of suicide. Petty thiev- 
ing is said to occur occasionally, but in so small a com- 
munity, where everyone knows everybody else so well 
and their goings and comings, any stolen article would be 
quickly recognized, so that their honesty in this way may 

26o Shackleton's Last Voyage 

be enforced through certainty of detection. Sheep are 
occasionally missed, and it is thought that theft may 
account for some of them, the depredations being carried 
out at night and the animal immediately skinned and cut 
up so that it is unrecognizable in the morning. There 
is no policeman, no jail, and no system of punishment 
for offenders. It seemed to me that they liyed very 
harmoniously together, with much give and take and very 
little quarrelling. 

It is curious that the minds of visitors to this settle- 
ment have been mainly struck in two very different ways. 
To the first class this island community seems to have 
approached the ideal. The French captain, Raymond 
du Baty, who visited the island in 1907, says : 

The social status of Tristan da Cunha is a 
commonwealth of a kind which has been dreamed of 
by philosophers of all ages and by our modern 
Socialists. There is no envy, hatred or malice among 
them ; everything is done for the common good ; they 
render each other brotherly service ; they are free from 
all the vices of civilization; they worship God in a 
simple way; they live very close to Nature, but with- 
out pantheistic superstition; greed and usury are un- 
known among them; there are no class distinctions, 
no rich or poor. Truly on this lonely rock in the South 
Atlantic we have a people who belong rather to the 
Pastoral Age of the world than to our modern unrest- 
ful life, and who, without theory or politics or written 
laws, have reached that state which has been described 
by the imaginative writers of all ages, haunted by the 
thought of the decadent morality of the seething cities, 
as the Golden Age or the Millennium. 

Tristan da Cunha 261 

I have often wondered as to what place the fleas, 
the rats, the offal outside the window and the fouled 
water supply take in the Golden Age. 

The second class of people are struck at once by the 
extreme poverty, the squalor and lack of comforts, the 
illiteracy and ignorance and the extreme isolation. The 
captain of a steamer who had once called to drop mails 
said to us : 

They are a greedy lot of beggars and thieves. 
When they come aboard they ask you for everything 
they see, and if you do not give them what they want 
they will try and pinch it. When it comes to a matter 
of a bargain, they give you diseased sheep and bad 
potatoes, though they have good enough stuff ashore. 

The question which arises to the mind of everyone 
is : What is to become of these people, with a rapidly 
increasing population and a decreasing touch with out- 
side civilization owing to lack of shipping ? The pastur- 
age on the island will support only a limited number of 
live stock, which soon will be insufficient for the increas- 
ing number of mouths. 

I inquired of many of them, especially the younger 
ones, as to whether they would leave the island and settle 
elsewhere if they had the opportunity. The reply in 
most cases was : Yes, provided they were given a 
chance to make a decent living. They realize, however, 
that without money and knowledge of its use and value, 
without experience of outside ways of working and 
living, without education and unable even to read or to 
write, they are likely to be at a disadvantage in a hard, 
workaday world. 

Robert Glass and some of the others who have spent 

262 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

some time away from the island fully realize that there 
is a day of reckoning to come, and they feel that, were 
it possible, it would be a good thing for the young men 
when they have reached a certain age to go away and 
work for a while at Cape Town or elsewhere. They could 
then decide whether they would return to the island or 
not, and, if they did, it is likely that they would bring 
back wives from the outside, thus periodically introduc- 
ing new blood to the community. Glass himself says 
he would like his boys to serve a period in the army or 
navy, where they would have a more or less sheltered 
life and to a certain extent be cared for and looked after. 

It is not likely that any offer of a wholesale trans- 
ference of the community to another part of the world 
would be accepted when it came to the point — at any 
rate, by the elder people. After all, this is natural 
enough, for how many people in England, told that the 
population was getting too big for the country, would 
consent at a day's notice to make a sudden shift to 
Canada or Australia? 

Nevertheless, I gathered from conversation with 
many of the young men that there is deep down a seed 
of unrest and a desire to see something of the outer 
world, where there are so many more opportunities to 
get on and acquire greater wealth, including such things 
as wrist-watches, electric torches, and boots of real 
leather. For this Robert Glass is largely responsible. 
The seed, however, requires cultivation. A missionary, 
by throwing himself into the interests of the islanders 
and becoming to some degree one of themselves, might 
effect considerable good by holding out continually in 
his daily talk and conversation prospects and mind 
pictures of a greater world where opportunities wait for 


Photos : Mackltn 

Tristan da Cunha 263 

the young men who can grasp them. Equally good 
results might be effected by influencing the women in the 
same way. A missionary, however, to obtain a good 
influence on these people must be a man of broad mind 
and sound common sense. One previous missionary, for 
example, undid much good work by an attempt to stop 
them going out to passing ships on a Sunday, a maxim 
which they must necessarily reject when the chances of 
trade on any day at all are so few and the taking of them 
so vital a matter to the whole community. Mr. Rogers, 
the present missionary, who replied yery frankly when I 
asked him his views on the subject, agreed that much 
harm might be done by holding too narrow a view and 
trying to force a bigoted religion on these people. He 
has an uphill fight in front of him, for he has to undo a 
feeling that the observance of a religion is a bugbear 
which entails a number of things that may not be done. 

Unfortunately, the chances of leaving the island, 
even if an individual has made up his mind to make the 
venture, have now become very scarce. There is no 
regular communication, and consequently arrangements 
for a job cannot be made beforehand, and as there is no 
money on the island those who do find a passage cannot 
maintain themselves until work is found. 

It so happens, however, that there are people in Cape 
Town who take an interest in Tristan da Cunha and who 
would be willing to give temporary help. 

It is hardly likely that the Government will ever 
again do anything for the relief of these people, though 
all that is required is a small vessel to make the journey 
once a year from Cape Town.' It should be prepared to 

1 I learn on going to press that H.M.S. Dublin is to visit the island in 
the near future. 

264 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

spend at least a week at Tristan da Cunha. Unfortun- 
ately, there is no good shelter, and on many days a land- 
ing could not be effected. Bad weather might compel 
the ship at any moment to leave her anchorage, and so 
she should have some power other than sail. 

The best time of year to make the trip is January, 
when bad weather would least likely be met with. A 
vessel of a hundred tons burden would be adequate. 

This is but a tiny portion of our Empire, but who 
knows, with the development of flying machines, of what 
use it may not ultimately become. Carr, our flying 
officer, late of the Royal Air Force, says there is a good 
site for an aerodrome, and the island is on the direct 
route from Cape Town to Buenos Aires. 

The Church organization also could do a vast amount 
of good by arranging for a permanent mission change- 
able, say, every three years, and thus ensure an unbroken 
education to those growing up. Much money is collected 
yearly for missions — for instance, to the Esquimaux — 
but there is evidence from the Arctic to show that the 
introduction of Christianity to these primitive people, 
who are not sufficiently evolved to receive it intelligently, 
has not always been productive of good, and in some 
cases has done much harm, whereas the value to Tristan 
da Cunha of a good sound practical religion combined 
with good schooling cannot be doubted. 



ON May 26th the wind was fair for Gough Island 
and we made good progress. Our ship had be- 
come a floating farmyard, for our live stock included 
sheep, geese, fowls, pig, cat, and, to stir them up 
and make things lively, our own dog Query, who had 
never before had so many interesting real live things 
to play with. The sow Bridget and the geese wandered 
all about the decks and got in the way generally. One 
gander was quite a character. He was blind of one 
eye and had a curious knack of standing with head on 
one side, quizzically regarding anyone he encountered. 
Regularly about once an hour he uttered a loud and very 
startling goose-call. We called him Nelson, and his 
mate, who followed him like a shadow wherever he went, 
was known as Jemima. Worsley in his watch below way 
being continually wakened by Nelson's harsh noises, 
and on one occasion I saw his head appear through his 
port and heard him shout : ** Be quiet, you silly beggar, 
you are not saving Rome now. That happened years 

Bridget was a tyrant; she would not let the sheep 
alone, but rooted about in their grass feed, and having 
collected it into a nice bed for herself, lay down on it 
in stertorous sleep whilst the sheep looked on, advanc- 
ing now and again to take an apologetic nibble at their 
own grass. Dell, who had taken in hand the attempt 


266 Shackleton^s Last Voyage 

to fatten these poor animals, drove her off relentlessly 
to the accompaniment of much squealing. 

We had a busy day squaring up after our upheaval 
at Tristan, and in getting ready the camping gear for 
use on Gough Island. 

On May 27th at about 12.0 noon the island showed 
up. In spite of the comparatively short run we had had 
some difficulty in picking it up on account of winds, 
strong tides and no sun, which made it impossible for 
Worsley and Jeffrey to locate exactly our position, and 
the visibility was so poor that we could see less than a 
mile in any one direction. About noon, however, it 
appeared as a high mass crowned with mist. 

This island lies about 250 miles south-south-east of 
Tristan da Cunha. It was discovered by Portuguese 
navigators in the sixteenth century and received the 
name Diego Alvarez. In 1731 Captain Gough in the 
Richmond sighted an island which he placed on the 
chart as lying to the east of Diego Alvarez and named 
Gough Island. For many years two separate islands 
were believed to exist, but now there can be no doubt 
they are one and the same. The name in most common 
usage is Gough, which seems hardly fair to its original 

In 181 1 it was sighted by H.M.S. Nereus under 
Captain Heywood. He effected a landing, described 
as being safe and easy, and discovered the remains of 
two huts which apparently had been set up some time 
previously by sealers. The height of the summit of the 
island was estimated by him at 4,380 feet. American 
sealers landed in 1825 but soon left. Morrell visited it 
in the Antarctic in 1829, and came to anchor in twelve to 
fourteen fathoms in a cove on the north side, where he 

Photo: Dr. Mack it n 


Diego Alvarez or Gough Island 267 

was able to water his ship. H.M.S. Royalist arrived in 
1887, and a survey was carried out by Lieut. J. P. 
Rolleston from which the Admiralty Chart (2228) was 
made. Towards the end of the same year an American 
schooner, Francis Alley n, left a party of five sealers 
for six months who met, however, with little success. 
Amongst them was George Comer who kept a diary. He 
seems to have been a keen observer very interested in 
natural history, and his diary contains a complete daily 
record of weather conditions during his stay. One of 
the party was frozen to death whilst attempting to cross 
over the island, and his grave was marked by a board 
bearing the inscription, " Jose Gomez perished in the 
snow." Another sealer, the Wild Rose, visited the 
island at the beginning of 1891 and landed a party which 
remained for about a year. They had little luck in the 
sealing. A harbour known as Snug Harbour is described 
by one of them as being situated at the southern end 
of the island lying between two large rocks known as 
Castle and Battery Rocks, suitable, however, only for 
small vessels and boats. Landing is said to be not 
difficult, and the higher ground easily accessible at this 

On only one occasion previous to our arrival had 
scientific investigators landed : in 1904 Dr. Bruce and 
members of the staff of the Scotia succeeded in effect- 
ing a landing. They were ashore for one day only, 
and bad weather and the necessity of " standing by " 
for a sudden recall prevented their going far afield. 
Nevertheless they made full use of their time and suc- 
ceeded in collecting a number of new specimens of both 
animal and plant life. Accounts had shown the island 
to be difficult of access, but I was particularly anxious 

268 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

to allow the naturalist and geologist with their assistants 
as many chances as possible for the collection of speci- 
mens and the examination of its natural features. This 
being mid-winter I feared that weather conditions might 
not be altogether propitious. 

We passed along the coast, keeping a close look out 
for an anchorage for the ship and good landing-places 
for the boats. Through binoculars we saw that the 
island was covered with vegetation, of which tussock 
grass, tree ferns and island trees were the most distin- 
guishable. In most places the land rose steeply from 
the sea, and down the face of the cliffs numerous water- 
falls, long and thin, resembling mare's tails, fell in long 
cascades. Every now and then they had the appearance 
of being cut abruptly in half, the wind in strong gusts 
catching the lower portions and blowing them away in 
fine, almost invisible, spray. The rocky outline of the 
island was marked with numerous caves and chasms, and 
striking features of its formation were pinnacles which 
stood up distinct, bold in outline, some smooth and 
tapering, others jagged and irregular. Steep rocky 
islands, sharply cut off from the shore and separated 
from it by narrow channels, rose sheer and straight from 
the sea, some bare, some crowned with a mass of vegeta- 
tion, most of them so steep as to be quite inaccessible. 

Of bird life we saw very little as we passed along 
the coast. A few sea-hens fiew out at our approach, 
while here and there on the rocks, usually near the 
entrance to some cave, we could distinguish the white 
bodies of terns. 

We rounded in turn West Cape, South West Cape, 
South Cape and South East Cape. Snug Harbour on 
the east side of South West Cape much belies its 

Diego Alvarez or Gough Island 269 

name, for " snug " it is not. Indeed, it can hardly be 
said that there is a harbour there at all. Although it 
offers a lee and a useful anchorage during high westerly 
winds, with no swell from south or west, to obtain any 
real shelter it is necessary to lie very close in to the 
shore, closer than is safe for any but the smallest of 
craft. As we passed there was a heavy swell and strong 
surf which made it quite unsuitable. 

In the " Glen Anchorage " on the east coast we 
found shelter and dropped anchor in twelve and a half 

Just about this time the light began to fail, and in 
the gathering dusk the island had a most romantic 
appearance. The glen forms a deep cleft at the back 
of which the island rises to a height of several thousand 
feet, marked here and there by bold outstanding masses 
of rock. Most remarkable of these is the " Apostle," 
a lofty solid crag which from its commanding position 
overlooks and dominates the glen. High up on one 
side is a long narrow obelisk, rising straight and steep. 
On the other side facing the harbour is a heavy broad 
mass with straight, clean-cut face crowned at the top 
with buttresses resembling a mediaeval castle. The glen 
itself was in black shadow, and the last rays of the set- 
ting sun lit up the summit of the island on which was 
gathering a rolling mass of sombre clouds. The whole 
setting was very beautiful and held us momentarily spell- 
bound, none caring to speak. Fancy carried thoughts 
back to the tales of childhood when gloomy keeps and 
dungeons, knights and fiery dragons — the myths of later 
years — had not ceased to be haunting realities. 

I did not feel altogether at ease in this spot. Fierce 
winds blowing gustily down the glen caused the ship 

270 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

to swing continually in different directions. There was 
a considerable swell running in from the sea, and I knew 
that a change of wind blowing strongly round South 
East Point would make our position a very uncomfort- 
able one. There was no moon and the night was black 
as pitch. I had a sharp watch set, and as it was difficult 
to get good bearings of the land ordered that soundings 
with the hand lead be taken every half-hour. 

I had already arranged for a party to go ashore the 
next day : Wilkins and Marr to make natural history 
collections, Douglas, Carr and Argles to do geological 
and survey work, and Naisbitt, whose steady work on 
the ship had earned him a run ashore, to act as cook. 
Wilkins, as being the most experienced of these, was 
placed in charge. I warned them to be ready at 

The next day was fortunately fine. I took the boat 
ashore with Macklin, Mcllroy and Kerr at the oars. 

At the mouth of the glen there is a narrow beach 
of large boulders. On the south side a stream runs 
into the sea. " Archway Rock," a large rock eighty- 
five feet high with a tunnel obviously drilled by the 
running stream, gives an imperfect protection to this 
side of the beach. A strong surf was running, but I 
managed to effect a landing under the lee of the rock, 
and after two journeys succeeded in putting the party 
ashore with their equipment. This was not accom- 
plished without considerable wetting. A strong wind 
was blowing down the glen, and I was able to let the 
boat lie off and with the boat's crew go ashore also. 
Owing to the changeable conditions I did not care to 
go far away from the landing-place, but I sent Macklin 
up the glen to get a general impression of the higher 

Diego Alvarez or Gough Island 271 

parts of the island and if possible obtain some photo- 
graphs, while with the others I explored the parts around 
the landing-place and the glen. 

The scientific party had brought with them two tents, 
one of which they started to set up. The other was not 
required, for we found on the flat piece of ground above 
the beach two huts, one of wood and corrugated iron, 
the other built of boulders from the beach and thatched 
with tussock grass. Both of them were in fairly good 
condition, and showed that the island had been recently 
inhabited by someone. Mice swarmed; they were very 
tame and showed little fear of us. All around lay in- 
struments for mineralogical examination ; picks, shovels, 
hand pump and hose, washing pans, mortar and pestle, 
rope, axes and many other things. In the huts were cook- 
ing utensils and a few unopened tins of preserved food, 
some of which were badly " blown." I found on one 
of the shelves a half-used box of matches, and test- 
ing one I was surprised to find that it ignited readily. 
There was a little cave to the right of the huts above 
which a stone had been affixed, bearing the following 
inscription : 

F. X. Xeigler, R. I. Garden, J. Hagan, 
W. Swaine, J. C. Fenton, Cape Town, 


The carving had been done by someone who knew 
his job for it had been very neatly executed. 

At the back of the hut and along the sides of the 
stream were numerous trenches and excavations, appar- 
ently where examinations had been made. One had 
the impression that a search had been carried out for 
diamonds or precious metal, but that nothing having 

272 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

materialized the party had just dumped down their tools 
and decamped. 

Vegetation appeared to be very luxuriant, tussock 
grass growing in large clumps covered the flat ground. 
Close to the beach and along the side of the stream 
there were numerous wallows, which from their shape 
and from the smell which emanated from them showed 
that sea elephants frequented the island in large 
numbers during certain seasons. I discovered two 
young bulls lying in the stream close to the sea. 
Ferns of many kinds grew everywhere. The slopes 
were covered with masses of tree fern, and amongst 
the smaller varieties was a very pretty maidenhair. 
There were several clumps of wild celery. The only 
trees on the island were island trees, which appar- 
ently never grow to great size, but many of which were 
larger and thicker than any I saw on Tristan da Cunha. 

Birds resembling thrushes but of a yellowish-green 
colour flew down and hopped about close to us. They 
seemed to be quite unafraid, and were so tame that if 
one kept still for a few minutes they would perch on 
one's feet and could be easily caught by dropping a 
hat over them. Sea-hens flew about overhead showing 
a marked interest in the invaders, or, perched on some 
near point of vantage, regarded proceedings with a 
watchful eye. They did not allow anyone to approach 
very close, but Argles, with a well-aimed geological 
hammer, succeeded in knocking over two of them, which 
proved a useful addition to the cooking-pot. Every 
now and then I heard coming from the slopes the 
occasional " chuck-chuck " of landrail, but the birds 
remained hidden in the vegetation. 

I went for a walk up the glen, following the course 

Diego Alvarez or Gough Island 273 

of the stream. Foothold was bad owing to the rocks 
being covered by a slimy deposit brought from rotting 
vegetation on the slopes. The water was coloured 
slightly green by the products of decomposition, but was 
used by the shore party for drinking and cooking pur- 
poses, apparently with no ill effect. 

In spite of the luxuriance of growth there is a great 
deal of dampness and dank rottenness of the vegetation 
which takes away much of its attractiveness. It is 
possible that this is most marked at this time of the 
year, i.e. June, mid-winter in the southern hemisphere, 
and that in summer things are drier, fresher and more 
pleasant. As I went along I caught an occasional 
glimpse of the landrails with their bright red combs, 
shiny black bodies and yellow legs. These flightless 
birds have little runways amongst the grass where it 
would be almost impossible to catch them alive. To 
draw them out I tried a trick which I had often carried 
out with success on Macquarie Island, imitating their 
" chuck-chuck " by knocking two smooth stones sharply 
together, but though I heard their answering calls draw- 
ing nearer they showed a great reluctance to venture 
into the open. 

This is an island where a marooned or shipwrecked 
party might live in comparative comfort. Instinctively, 
whilst taking in all its possibilities, my mind reverted to 
Elephant Island, the grim and barren spot where I 
wintered with my party during the last Antarctic expedi- 
tion, short of food and fuel, bitterly cold and devoid of 
everything that makes life endurable. Here there is 
abundance of food and plenty of wood to burn, drift 
wood from the beach and the island tree wood. In 
addition to the animal life we saw about us, the sea 

274 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

swarms with fish of excellent quality, and crayfish can 
be easily caught from the rocks. There are also large 
rookeries of rockhopper penguins (as we saw later) 
which provide good meat and in the season abundance 
of eggs. Small weather-proof dwellings of the type 
used on Tristan da Cunha could be built from the 
numerous small boulders on the beach and roofed over 
with tussock grass. True, too long a sojourn might pro- 
duce some of the disquietude of Alexander Selkirk, but 
there would at least be no fear of starvation, and conv 
pared with Elephant Island the place is a perfect 
paradise. I returned to the landing-place, and with 
Mcllroy and Kerr put off in the boat and rowed into 
the belt of kelp where I was anxious to see what kinds 
of fish could be caught about the island. It was un- 
necessary to bait the hooks, a spinner bait or bright piece 
of tin was sufficient. The fish bit readily and we quickly 
collected all we required for food. The variety found 
in the kelp and about the shore is a reddish-coloured 
fish with strong horny spines. It is excellent to eat. 
From the ship with strong lines and hooks we caught 
" blue-fish " weighing up to forty pounds, which also 
make good eating. Watts and Green, who are tireless 
disciples of Izaak Walton, were responsible for many 
of these catches. Crayfish were obtained by lowering a 
weighted net baited with fish. Usually we hauled this 
up full of them with others clinging to the outside. They 
were to us a great delicacy. 

In the afternoon Worsley and Jeffrey, with the 
assistance of Dell and Ross, carried out a series of 
soundings from the boat with a view to charting accur- 
ately the anchorage. Later they went ashore and 
measured the height of Archway Rock. 

Diego Alvarez or Gough Island 275 

I sent in the boat to be put ashore three of the geese 
which we had brought from Tristan da Cunha. As the 
boat neared the beach they did not wait to be lifted out, 
but jumped over the gunwale into the water. They swam 
round the Archway Rock and made a landing at the 
foot of the small glen which opens to the sea there. 
We did not see them again, but I was in hopes that 
they would settle and breed. 

Jeffrey, who is a keen observer and takes a close 
interest in things generally, discovered a very pretty 
maidenhair fern, a number of which he assiduously set 
about collecting with roots complete for taking home. 
On returning to the ship he placed them carefully in 
a large pot. Having inadvertently left this on deck, 
he returned to find that Bridget had discovered them 
and with much appreciation had eaten the lot. 

Before returning the party picked up Macklin and 
brought him off. He had followed the main glen to 
where it divided into two, taken the one to the right 
till he reached the grass-covered higher slopes of the 
island, made a traverse to the base of the " Apostle " 
and returned by the other glen. The following descrip- 
tion is from his diary : 

After leaving Commander Wild I set off up the 
glen, following as far as possible the course of the 
stream. To appreciate the keen enjoyment of a walk 
like this one must have spent many weary months 
knocking about at sea in a small ship. The little 
stream was very beautiful as it wound down the glen 
with its deeps and shallows and little torrents. Every 
turn produced a new and attractive picture, and the 
setting behind with the Apostle standing out dominant 

276 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

and high was really magnificent. One had to pro- 
ceed carefully, for the stones and boulders were very 
slippery. Sometimes it became necessary to leave 
the stream and take to the bank, but nowhere was the 
going good. Having passed several waterfalls, I 
came to a long straight stretch running between steep 
sides covered over with branches of island tree to form 
a long tunnelled archway. I waded along this to 
encounter a high waterfall up the sides of which there 
was no way. I was compelled to take to the bank, 
climbing a steep mossy slope, and plunged in amongst 
the trees and tree ferns which grow in thick masses 
on either side of the glen, running upwards from the 
edge of the stream to a height of about a thousand 
feet. The going was now very difficult, for the water- 
falls became too numerous and steep for one to con- 
tinue following the stream. I forced my way with 
difficulty through masses of fern and island tree all 
soaking wet, much of it rotten and thickly covered 
with lichen and other forms of parasite. 

The glen divided into two and I chose the one 
to the right, working my way laboriously till I reached 
at last the upper edge of thick vegetation and emerged 
on to grassy slopes, which were very sodden and 
covered with numerous grasses and mosses. The air 
blew pure and fresh, rather cold, but a welcome 
change from the stuffy atmosphere of the thicker 
vegetation. I was now able to get a look round. 
The island certainly had a curious formation with 
its rugged rocky pinnacles and ridges. I was at- 
tracted by the huge mass of the Apostle and deter- 
mined to make for it. This necessitated descending 
into the glen, crossing the stream and climbing again 

Photo: Dr. Macklin 


rhoto: Dr. Macklin 

The photograph shows the steepness of the cliffs on Cough Island 

Diego Alvarez or Gough Island 277 

through the thick belt. I chose wherever possible 
the course of small tributaries, but these dropped very 
steeply and had many long thin waterfalls which fell 
over smooth rock covered with moss, which readily 
came away and afforded no hand or foothold. I 
reached a ridge which rose in a series of thin sharp 
rocky pinnacles, and working along this at last reached 
the grass land at the foot of the Apostle. I made an 
effort to climb the mass from the front, but was not 
successful. The time limit allowed me by Com- 
mander Wild was now up and I had to make my way 
down again. The geological party, Douglas, Carr 
and Argles, who came here later found an easy way 
up by walking round to the back. 

I descended into the other glen and attempted to 
work down the stream, but found myself in a narrow 
gorge between high, smooth walls of rock and, coming 
to the head of a high waterfall, could find no way 
down, so that I was compelled to go back out of the 
gorge and come down through the vegetation on the 
banks. This was almost as hard work as going up, 
and long before I reached the bottom the climb had 
ceased to be a pleasure and had become mere hard 
work, increased by the fact that I had overstayed my 
time and had to hurry. The fresh upland air was 
changed again to the hot stuffiness of the valley, and 
when I arrived at the landing-place I was soaked to 
the skin as much with perspiration as with wet from 
the outside. Anyone working through this vegetation 
at this time of year must be prepared to get wetted 
through, for everything is sodden. 

Through being late I had to wait some time for 
the boat, and cooled so rapidly that I was soon shiver- 

278 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

ing. Naisbitt had kindled a fire of driftwood, and I 
was glad to sit in front of this. He also made me a 
cup of tea which helped to warm me up. 

A number of small and very tame mice came out 
to regard me curiously; they must have been intro- 
duced by the people who built the huts. One very 
old one crept up to the warmth of the fire — it had very 
shaky limbs and moved slowly and carefully — rather 
like a doddery old man. I was taking a great interest 
in it when Query came up to me, and catching sight 
of it sitting in the fireglow casually bit it, killed it and 
dropped it. The utter thoughtlessness and callous 
cruelty of the act ! — and all the time he slowly 
wagged his tail, oozing with friendliness and good 
nature. . . . 

It is probable that anyone visiting this island in 
January would find conditions much more pleasant, 
and to a botanist especially it should appeal as a fertile 
field for research. 

The early part of the night was fine. All round us 
was a beautiful phosphorescence, the sea being covered 
with waves of flame. Anything thrown overboard caused 
ripples and splashes of liquid fire and the cable was a 
chain of living light, the whole being accentuated by the 
intense blackness of the night. 

Whilst passing along the port alleyway I noticed just 
opposite the galley a weird luminous glow emanating 
from two large spots set closely together. They were 
like the eyes of a large animal and produced momentarily 
a creepy feeling. Closer examination revealed two cray- 
fish as the source of this phenomenon. The flesh of 
these creatures is brightly luminous, and wherever there 

Diego Alvarez or Gough Island 279 

are chinks in the horny coating and where it is thin the 
light shines through. 

Towards daybreak of the next morning the wind 
increased and a strong swell started running into the 
anchorage. Not caring to take any undue risks with 
such an unpleasant lee shore, I heaved anchor and 
steamed out past South East Point, keeping close into 
the island to enable Worsley to carry out a series of 

The land along the south side of the island slopes 
much more gradually to the summit than it does opposite 
the Glen Anchorage, and the vegetation which is the 
greatest bar to climbers is much less dense. Getting 
ashore would be less easy than at the glen. There are 
places where in fine weather a boat landing could be 
effected, but the beaches are very narrow and unfit for 
camping on. It would be necessary also before the 
slopes are reached to surmount a short steep cliff up 
which in many places a man unhandicapped by gear 
might with comparative ease find a way, but where the 
hauling up of camping equipment would be more diffi- 
cult. Soundings were carried on throughout the day, 
and Worsley and Jeffrey made a rough running survey 
of the coast, mapping as accurately as possible the most 
salient points and headlands. The wind coming more 
westerly we returned at night to the Glen Anchorage. 

The next day I intended putting Worsley and 
Macklin ashore and set off in the boat with Mcllroy 
and Kerr at the oars. There was, however, a much 
bigger surf than we had encountered the previous day, 
and a landing at the beach was quite out of the question. 
I succeeded in putting the boat alongside the outer edge 
of the Archway Rock on to which they scrambled. This 

28o Shackleton's Last Voyage 

side is very steep and they were unable to reach the 
top which is overhanging. As a matter of fact, we dis- 
covered later that there is a way up by a '* chimney " 
at the point nearest the beach, but it was so thickly 
covered with tussock grass as to be invisible from below. 
Up this an active man carrying a coil of rope would 
have comparatively little difficulty in making his way, 
and a landing could be effected by this route when it 
would be impossible at the beach. 

Not willing to give up the attempt I took the boat 
to the far side of the beach where a considerable swell 
was running, but where the surf was to some extent 
broken by a thick mass of seaweed. The swell, how- 
ever, in spite of the weed was so high and steep that 
we narrowly escaped being capsized and had to abandon 
this also. I therefore gave up the attempt for that day 
and rowed along the coast examining rocks and entering 
numerous small caves. The water was beautifully clear 
and the bottom easily visible, with growths of beautiful 
seaweed and all manner of fish and crayfish. 

During the next three days the swell increased, and 
though we tried each day to land the attempt was 
attended with so much risk of damage to the boat that 
on each occasion I gave up the attempt. 

The beaches are composed of large and irregularly 
placed boulders, and many rocks but little submerged 
and often awash complicate the approach. Our surf 
boat was very lightly built, and under circumstances 
like this there was a danger of her bottom being stove in 
against the boulders. There was also a risk should she 
get across one of the outlying rocks of being capsized 
and swamped by the inrushing swell. We found that 
the seas were so steep that when they had passed 

Diego Alvarez or Gough Island 281 

under our bottom the boat came down heavily on the 
water with such a resounding smack that had she struck 
something hard she must have immediately been stove 
in. Indeed our attempt at landing provided us with 
no little excitement, but I was fortunate in having with 
me amongst the crew a number of cool and capable 
oarsmen, and we escaped damage. 

Another factor which adds to the difficulty of landing 
at Gough Island is the force of the gusts which blow 
down the glen. They come in whirls so that the boat 
is blown violently first in one direction and then another, 
and at this time of year are bitingly cold. 

Examination of the records of other explorers who 
have visited this island shows that there has always been 
a difficulty in landing. 

The time spent lying off an island in an exposed 
anchorage is a trying one for all concerned, especially 
for those on whom lies the responsibility of action. One 
has to be continually on the watch for signs of change 
of winds. At this time there was no moon and it was 
difficult to fix the position of the ship by objects on shore. 
The fierceness of the squalls and their continually 
changing direction with consequent swing of the ship 
created a danger of dragging the anchor. By bringing 
the ship closer into the shore we escaped some of the 
effects of wind and swell, but there was less room in 
which to manoeuvre in case of accident. We had always 
to keep the sounding-lead going, and I gave orders to 
Kerr that he was to maintain the fires so that at fifteen 
minutes' notice there could be a full pressure of steam 
in the boilers. 

I began to feel uneasy about the party on shore, for 
unless we were very fortunate we might have to wait 

282 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

many days before we could take them off. At any time 
we might be driven by stress of weather away from the 
island, and in a ship of such low engine-power as the 
Quest getting back might be a matter of difficulty. I 
had also to consider the question of coal expenditure. 
I determined, therefore, to seize the first opportunity of 
picking them up. 

During the night we had vicious hailstorms, and 
the squalls which blew off shore out of the mouth of the 
glen increased in violence. 

In the morning, with Mcllroy, Macklin and Kerr, 
I took the boat in to the beach, and using a stern anchor 
was able to effect a landing close to the Archway Rock. 
I shouted to Wilkins to get together his party and 
equipment and come aboard. Unfortunately Douglas, 
Carr and Argles had gone out the previous day and had 
camped for the night farther up the hill, and Wilkins did 
not expect them back till late. I therefore took off 
Naisbitt and him, with as much equipment as was not 
necessary for the night. I left Marr behind with a 
message that all were to be ready to come off as soon 
as possible. Getting the gear aboard was a ticklish 
matter, for seas came heavily over the stern, and fierce 
squalls with hail blowing in our faces from the hills 
helped to make things more unpleasant. Macklin and 
Kerr leapt into the sea to assist with the loading, and no 
one escaped a good soaking. We got off without mishap, 
however, and returned to the ship. During the night 
the gusts at the mouth of the glen had been so violent 
that the tent was blown in and the party compelled to 
move to the hut. Wilkins writes : " During a violent 
squall of hail and sleet our tent was literally blown from 
the ropes, leaving us exposed beneath the skeleton of 

Diego Alvarez or Gough Island 283 

ridge pole and guys. The wind, although not blowing 
a continuous hurricane, sweeps down the gullies and over 
the cliffs in terrific gusts at the rate of more than a hun- 
dred miles an hour." As a matter of fact, the party, 
none of whom apparently were accustomed to tent life 
under these conditions, were asking for trouble, for they 
had pitched the tent broadside to the gusts and had left 
guys and skirting very slack. It is important in high 
winds to cut out all shake and flutter or the canvas will 
eventually tear itself to ribbons. 

I had a good look round for any signs of the geese 
which we put ashore, but saw nothing of them. They 
should have no difficulty in finding ample food. 

In the afternoon Worsley, with Macklin, Dell and 
Watts, took the boat to look at a cave farther along the 
coast. On entering they found that it had a large shaft 
open to the sky down which a cascade of water was 
pouring. Worsley carried out some more soundings 
with the hand-lead, taking a line across the mouth of 
the bay. 

Next morning the upper slopes of the island were 
covered in white, the result of the hailstorms. 

I saw that landing would be no easy matter, but 
determined to make an attempt to take off the rest of 
the shore party. I attempted the beach landing, but 
had to give it up. I therefore told the party to carry 
their equipment to the top of Archway Rock, taking 
with them a rope to lower themselves to the rocks at 
the bottom, from which it would be possible to pick 
them off. Rain and hail squalls blew all the time and 
waiting in the boat was very unpleasant. They had a 
difficult job but succeeded in massing the gear at the 
top. Carr descended, having secured the rope to an 

284 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

island tree. He discovered the chimney which had been 
invisible from below. It is situated on the bay side of 
the rock close to the corner nearest the beach. Twice 
Marr nearly stepped over the overhanging edge, but was 
warned in the nick of time by our shouts. Query, who 
accompanied the shore party, was lowered in a sack. 
Ultimately we got the whole party safely off and 
returned in violent squalls to the ship. 

We left the Glen Anchorage and proceeded in a 
north-westerly direction to a sheltered spot close to the 
high rounded column of " Lot's Wife," certainly well 
named for it forms an unmistakable mark. We anchored 
opposite a waterfall in eight and a half fathoms, and 
Worsley, Macklin, Wilkins and Douglas went ashore. 
At this point there is a narrow beach with a small piece 
of flat land behind it from which the island rises steeply 
to a summit crowned with a mass of rock. Between the 
waterfall and the point there is a large penguin rookery, 
deserted at this time of the year except for a few rock- 
hoppers, whose lives were claimed on scientific grounds. 
Wilkins added a number of specimens to his collection, 
and Macklin caught a landrail alive, which was found 
to be blind of one eye, this no doubt being the reason 
why he was able to stalk it. He materialistically de- 
signed it for the pot, but as it was a perfect specimen 
Wilkins asked if he might have it for his collection. 

We lay at anchor for the night, and at daybreak next 
morning, June 3rd, set off for Cape Town. 

Wilkins and his party during their stay on the island 
had accomplished some very good work. Assisted by 
Marr, who thoroughly enjoyed his camping experience, 
he made a large collection of animal and plant life and 
obtained a number of photographs. Unfortunately the 

Photo: Dr. RlackUn 


Diego Alvarez or Gough Island 285 

light was not good. Douglas, Carr and Argles made a 
rough survey of this part of the island and carried out 
a geological examination of the glen and uplands. They 
reached the highest point, which proved to be 2,915 feet 
in height. To do this they spent a night in the open 
covered only by a floor cloth. It was bitterly cold but 
the vegetation was far too damp to enable them to start 
a fire. 

Douglas, though not a botanist, made a very interest- 
ing observation. In the " Little Glen," just to the south 
of Archway Rock, he discovered a grove of trees which 
he describes as " growing as if planted in an orchard," 
attaining a height of thirteen or fourteen feet, and 
covering ground of about twelve feet diameter. It 
differs in many respects from the island tree, and 
Wilkins considers it to be a species of sophora which is 
found in New Zealand and parts of South America. Its 
features are intermediate in type between those of the 
trees found in these respective places. 

Naisbitt took charge of the camp and acted as cook, 
which duties he seems to have carried out well. 

The party left behind a considerable quantity of 
preserved provisions, which they carefully stored in the 
hut, for they had taken ashore a larger supply than was 
necessary for their own needs. I hope if it is the lot 
of any to be compelled by accident to sojourn on this 
island that these stores will add something to their 
comfort, though with all the equipment and shelter 
left by the mining party and the abundance of natural 
resources I would have no fear for their safety. 

As much hydrographical and survey work as possible 
was carried out on the ship. An examination of anchor- 
ages, one on the north coast, one on the south coast, 

286 Shackleton^s Last Voyage 

and two on the east coast showed that shelter might 
be found from northerly, southerly or westerly winds. 
There are no sheltered bays, each anchorage being an 
open roadstead. None of them can be considered safe 
for ships without steam, and the latter should at all times 
be prepared to get under way at very short notice. 
The Glen Anchorage affords good holding ground. 

The positions of Penguin Island, the Glen Anchor- 
age and Lot's Wife Cove were definitely established. 

A good rough survey was made of the eastern and 
northern coasts and a rough running survey of the rest 
of the island. Soundings and examinations were made 
for all dangers and rocks round the coast. The height 
of several rocks and cliffs on the eastern coast were 
accurately determined. 

There are no outlying dangers about Gough Island. 

Jeffrey carried out tidal observations during our stay. 

There is no doubt that the work of the scientific 
parties and the observations taken on and about 
Gough Island, when fully worked out, will prove most 



ON June 3rd we set course for Cape Town, where 
I should be able to get into communication with 
Mr. Rowett. We had had a pretty hard and trying time, 
but I should have liked to have one more season in the 
Enderby Quadrant. The Quest had her faults — ^too 
many — but yet I had learned to love this little ship for 
all her waywardness. I had come to believe that much 
might be accomplished by making Cape Town our 
starting point and setting out early in the season. 

On mature consideration, however, I realized that it 
was inevitable that we must return home, for I knew 
that we had almost reached the time limit arranged by 
Sir Ernest Shackleton. There was still much work to 
be done, for we had to call at St. Helena, Ascension 
Island and St. Vincent. If time permitted, I intended 
to include South Trinidad Island also. I was anxious 
for Douglas to make a geological examination of these 
places so that he might be able to link them up with the 
islands we had already visited. 

After leaving Gough Island we had had head winds 
and seas, and consequently made little progress. 

We slaughtered Bridget and cut her up, Dell being 
the murderer. She was very fat and in excellent condi- 
tion, and made a welcome change of fare. 

The wind fell off a little on June 4th and 5th 
and came abaft the beam, enabling us to shut off steam 


288 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

and proceed under sail only. We were now short of coal 
and had to economize so that we should have a supply 
sufficient to take us into port. The ship also was very 
light, as a result not only of the depleted bunkers, but 
also from the lightening of the fore-hold of the mails and 
stores which were put ashore at Tristan da Cunha. 

I was now proceeding to enable Worsley to look for 
a reef reported by the whalers of South Georgia as seen 
in the neighbourhood of position lat. 35° 4' S. and 
5° 20' W. long. (350 miles east by north of Tristan da 
Cunha). Captain Hansen, of the Orwell, was very 
positive on the matter, stating that whilst proceeding 
from Cape Town to South Georgia he had seen breaking 
water and strands of kelp in this position. We took a 
series of soundings, which showed no signs of shoaling, 
and the snapper revealed bottom specimens of white 

On June 6th we started cleaning up the paint-work 
in an endeavour to make the ship look moderately 
respectable for our entry into Cape Town, but I am 
afraid that as a result of the hard battering which she 
received in the South she still had a very weather-beaten 
appearance in spite of any efforts we made in this way. 
Dell again had some butchering to do. He skinned one 
of the Tristan sheep, which proved to be very scraggy. 

We spent the day making a traversing cruise, looking 
for the reported reef, but saw absolutely no indications 
of its presence in this position. Three successive sound- 
ings showed not less than 1,900 fathoms, with the same 
globigerinous ooze bottom we had found since leaving 
Gough Island. 

On June 7th we still traversed in search of the reef. 
We made another attempt to obtain soundings, but the 

Note the scarring of her timbers 

TJ//; QUEST y. 

Showing her size as compared with that of a modern sailing ship 

Photo: W ilk ins 


Cape Town 289 

wind and sea increased so much that it was impossible 
to keep the ship over the lead. Dell, at the Lucas 
machine, had a trying time, for he was continually being 
immersed. After 580 fathoms of wire had been run out 
I ordered him to reel in, and we headed off direct for 
Table Bay. The wind continued to increase in force, 
and, coming ahead, blew up from the south-east with 
heavy squalls of rain. 

On the 8th and 9th we had a strong gale in which the 
now much lightened Quest flung herself about in the 
most lively manner, and much water came over our rails. 
On the 9th the Quest excelled everything she had 
ever done in the way of rolling, and though we were by 
now well accustomed to her little ways, it was only with 
the greatest difficulty that we could move about the 
decks, passing quickly from one support to another. 

On this day Query was washed overboard. He had 
become so confident and sure-footed that we had long 
ceased to have any fears on his behalf. Dell had just 
finished skinning our second Tristan sheep, and was in 
process of hanging it to a stay on the bridge deck. 
Query, taking as usual an active interest in the pro- 
ceedings, had followed him up. The ship was struck by 
a heavy sea, which caused her to throw herself violently 
to leeward, and Query was carried under the griping spar 
of the port life-boat. Jeffrey, who was on watch, imme- 
diately stopped the engines and attempted to wear ship, 
but in these heavy seas any attempt at a rescue was 
impossible. Poor Query ! he must have wondered why 
the usual helping hand was not forthcoming, as it had 
so often been on previous occasions to help him out of 
his scrapes. His loss caused a real hurt. 

On the loth conditions were much the same, with 


290 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

heavy squalls at intervals. The wind hauled a point, and 
at 2 P.M. we set the foresail and stopped the engines. 
We logged 5 knots as an average, and 6 to 7 during 
the squalls. In the middle watch at night I saw a perfect 
lunar rainbow stretching in a big arc across our bows. 

On the I ith and 12th the wind fell light and we had 
fine weather. I set all hands to cleaning up, for this 
work had been suspended during the bad weather. We 
could do nothing to the outside of the ship, which was 
so scratched and scarred as to make hopeless any attempt 
to improve it. We managed, however, to brighten up the 
wardroom and cabins a little. " Old Mac " scraped the 
foremast — a difficult job on account of the heavy rolling 
— but it greatly improved our appearance. This fine old 
seaman is a product of the old-time sailing ships, a real 
sailor of a type only too rare to-day. He has made three 
voyages to the Antarctic. 

The rest of this portion of the trip was uneventful 
till, on the 17th, we sighted on the horizon the Cape of 
Good Hope and saw Table Mountain appear from 
behind the clouds. We entered Table Bay early in the 
morning of Sunday, June i8th. 

At Cape Town we were met by our agents and Mr. 
Cook, who was acting as Mr. Rowett's representative. 
They brought us a big mail. It was interesting to see the 
members crowd round till they had received their letters, 
when each man sought out a quiet corner to which he 
might retire and read them undisturbed by anyone. 

After the usual formalities had been gone through, 
we were piloted to a snug berth in the Alfred Dock. It 
was not until I had seen the comments in the Cape Town 
Press that I realized how much battered our little ship 
had been in her arduous struggle with the heavy seas and 

Cape Town 291 

ice. One paper spoke of her as " small, unpretentious, 
but grizzly looking, and bearing signs where the ice 
had scored furrows in her planks." Another described 
her as " a black, stubby little boat, steaming into Cape 
Town unknown, unannounced . . . the leaden skies, the 
cold green waters of the harbour, the sullen murkiness 
of the distant sea, the little furtive showers of rain, all 
seemed to claim the little ship as part of themselves, 
catch her up and absorb her into them as an essential 
part of the picture. . . ." 

All were amazed at her size, and few believed that so 
small a craft could have accomplished so much and 
covered so great a distance. We had the warmest of 
welcomes from the people of South Africa, and during 
our stay were so lavishly entertained by these hospitable 
folk that each one of us must carry for ever a warm spot 
in his heart for Cape Town and its inhabitants. 

We were received by the Prime Minister (General 
Smuts) and entertained by him and his wife at their 
beautiful house at Groote Schur. 

The ship was visited by many of the prominent 
people of South Africa, including members of the House 
of Parliament, which was then in session. All of them 
took a very keen interest in the regions we had visited, 
especially in Tristan da Cunha, the islands about it, and 
Gough Island. Much sympathy was expressed at the 
state of destitution in which we had found the people of 
Tristan da Cunha, and the Ca-pe Argus, an enterprising 
and yery efficiently staffed daily paper, immediately 
started making arrangements for a relief ship to visit 
them, and asked our advice as to the most suitable type 
of vessel for the work. It was hoped that she would be 
able to sail about the beginning of January, that being 

292 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

the most suitable time of year for effecting a landing on 
the island. 

The Enderby Quadrant of the Antarctic is also of 
special interest to South Africans because the climatic 
conditions there have a large bearing upon the weather 
of Cape Colony. The Meteorological Office of South 
Africa was anxious for a preliminary report of our 
meteorological work, which Mcllroy gave them. 

I gave Douglas permission to spend his time in 
Johannesburg, for as a geologist he was very anxious to 
visit the mining areas. He was accompanied by Wilkins. 

Invitations poured in for the various members to visit 
the different parts of the country about Cape Town, but 
though I much regretted having to decline them, I was 
unable to give any further leave, as the different 
members were required for work about the ship. 

As is common on the occasion of the return of an 
expedition from the Antarctic, most of the party were 
attacked by " colds in the head." Influenza was preva- 
lent in the town and found two ready victims, first in 
Macklin, who contracted it soon after our arrival, and, 
later, myself. 

Much repair work and general overhauling was 
necessary on the Quest. I had it put in hand at once. 
The engines, which under the careful nursing of Kerr, 
Smith and their staff had withstood the hard conditions 
remarkably well, now required an overhaul before we 
could again put to sea. The rigging was reset up and all 
necessary repairs completed. The ship received a new 
coating of paint, which completely transformed her 
battered appearance and made her once more a smart- 
looking little vessel. Fresh stores were taken aboard, 
and, the work completed, we left next day for the naval 

Cape Town 293 

dockyard at Simonstown. Several of our friends made 
the trip with us, including a number of Boy Scouts who 
had been assisting aboard the ship, but the Quest, revert- 
ing quickly to her old antics, made them wish they had 
stayed ashore. 

We were most kindly received by Admiral Sir 
William Goodenough, who gave us a snug berth in the 
harbour. I am much indebted to him for his kindness 
during the time we remained in Simonstown. Here again 
we received every kindness from the officers of the ships 
attached to this base, especially those of H.M.S. Lowes- 
toft and Dublin, who welcomed us with the proverbial 
open-handedness of the Navy. 

On July 13th, the day of our departure, we had the 
honour of a visit from the Governor-General, H.R.H. 
Prince Arthur of Connaught, who, accompanied by 
Admiral Sir William Goodenough, made an inspection 
of the ship and took a keen interest in everything he saw. 

My attack of influenza had been a very severe one 
and left me feeling very weak. I was fortunate in 
making an uncomplicated recovery. My best thanks are 
due to Mr. and Mrs. John Jeffrey, old friends with whom 
I stayed during my illness and whose many kindnesses 
I shall not easily forget. 

In order not to delay the sailing of the Quest, I re- 
joined her earlier, perhaps, than was advisable, and on 
arrival at the dockyard felt so exhausted that I was com- 
pelled to take to my bunk at once. 

Before finally leaving we swung the ship to adjust 
compasses. This was again done for us by Commander 
Traill-Smith, R.N., who had so kindly performed this 
office on our leaving Plymouth, and who had since our 
departure been transferred to this base. 



FOR the first few days at sea after leaving Cape 
Town I was obliged to keep my bunk, but the 
care of the doctors, the solicitous attentions of Green, 
who went to all sorts of length to produce delicacies for 
me, and the good salt air worked wonders, and I began 
to regain strength and was soon up and about. 

As I was in bed the following is quoted verbatim 
from Macklin's diary : 

July i^th. 

A lovely sunny day with smooth sea, and the Quest 
behaving better than she has ever done before. Surely 
this is a prelude to something wicked — I do not trust 
the Quest when she is good. 

Worsley took the ship close in to Sea Point to 
enable us to signal good-bye to our many friends 
there, after which we put out to the open ocean. We 
passed close to a small fishing boat and called her 
alongside to enable one of our members to pass 
over a letter for his latest best girl. A sailor, of 
course ! with a girl in every port, but I omit his 
name. I took the opportunity of buying some fresh 
fish, for which I exchanged some tobacco and ship's 

It was a lovely afternoon, and all about the ship 
were numbers of seabirds — gulls, albatross and shags. 


St. Helena to St. Vincent 295 

In the water were penguins (a type not found in the 
Antarctic), seals, turtles and sharks. This part of the 
ocean must simply teem with life to support all these 
large animals. 

About 5 P.M. a big Castle liner passed us homeward 
bound, and Wuzzles changed course to enable us to 
give a shout to Cookie, who was aboard. The skipper, 
however, must have been watching through his glasses, 
and, seeing what a crowd of toughs we were (Wuzzles 
prominent on the bridge), sheered widely off and 
passed us too far away to distinguish individuals. 

Commander Wild is very limp. He had a very 
bad attack of " flu." He's a hard case, and it takes a 
lot to upset him. A few of Green's egg-flips and the 
salt air will soon set him on his feet again. 

Sunday, July i6th. 

Yesterday was a fine day, most of which I spent 
below hatches making, with Marr's assistance, a final 
stowage and getting things ready for sea. 

To-day has been perfectly lovely. Had the 
4.0-8.0 A.M. watch, and Dell, Mick and I had just 
scrubbed down decks, and made a jolly good job of it 
too, when the stokers started cleaning pipes and 
simply covered the whole ship with soot and ashes. 
We blessed them fervently for this good beginning to 
a Sabbath Day, the rest of which we spent trying to 
get our cabins and living quarters clear of the mess 
they had made. 

Commander Wild is much better, though he is not 
yet all right, as he seems to think. I allowed him up 
to sit in the sun for a little while. 

The Windsor Castle passed and signalled us " A 

296 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

pleasant yoyage." We dipped ensigns. There is 
something rather nice about these sea courtesies. 

Bosson, Green's new mate, entrusted with a carv- 
ing knife, succeeded in nearly severing one finger. 

July i()th. 

Weather has continued fine, with fair, following 
winds. Commander Wild improving steadily and eat- 
ing better than I have ever known him to do. He has 
a good deal to make up, for he lost a great deal of 
weight in Cape Town. 

Yesterday I stowed some cases for Jeff and bound 
them with pyrometa wire. To-day Jeff and Dell re- 
moved the wardroom stove, which we shall no longer 
need, thank goodness, for with the down draught from 
squaresail and topsail the smoke nearly always went 
the wrong way. 

July 20th. 

Engines stopped, and we lay to for a bottom 
dredging. We wound in the line by hand. Good old 
man-power ! — we always come down to it in the end. 
The whole job took about eight hours; it is good 
exercise, but towards the end becomes a bit of a toil. 
Whilst stopped we were surrounded by albatross, 
and Green and Watts succeeded in catching some 
alive. Good-looking birds were passed to Wilkins, 
the poorer specimens were set free (this is subject for 
a moral). 

The next few days were uneventful. I had by now 
quite got over my illness and begun to go about as usual. 

On July 27th we arrived at St. Helena, which was of 
interest to me because in my first voyage as a boy in an 

St. Helena to St. Vincent 297 

old sailing ship we had called here and I had not been 
back since. 

This island has a most interesting history. It was 
first discovered in 1592 by Juan de Nova Castilla, one 
of the enterprising Portuguese navigators of those days, 
who claimed it for Portugal. Since then it has two or 
three times changed hands. The East India Company 
used it as a port of call for a long time, but handed it 
over to the British Government in 1833. Under the 
company's administration the island prospered exceed- 
ingly. The famous navigator, Captain Cook, who visited 
the island in 1775, speaks of finding its people " Hying 
in delightful little homes amongst pleasant surround- 
ings," and describes them as the nicest people of English 
extraction he had ever met. The Government, on taking 
over, seemed to have a much less sympathetic under- 
standing of the island and its people, for since that time 
its prosperity has steadily declined. It was used and is 
chiefly known to the world as the prison of such men as 
Napoleon, Cronje and others. 

From the sea the island is very unprepossessing, 
rising steeply from the water's edge and looking bare, 
hot and dry. Jamestown, the port, lies in a valley which 
runs backwards and upwards from the sea in a straggling 
and ever-narrowing line. From the anchorage one gets 
a refreshing glimpse of green on the inner slopes. One 
of the first things that catches the eye on looking ashore 
is a huge ladder, nearly a thousand feet long and over 
six hundred feet high, which passes from Jamestown to 
the summit of Ladder Hill. It contains seven hundred 
steps, to the top of which, in days gone by, a postman 
carrying his bag of letters used to run without a halt. 

Having passed through the usual port formalities, I 

298 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

got ready to go ashore. Whilst preparing to leave, the 
ship was called up from the " Observatory," and I 
received an invitation from H.E. the Governor to lunch 
at his house, together with two or three of my officers. 
I took Worsley, Mcllroy and Macklin with me. 

Jamestown is protected from the sea by a wall, and 
we entered through iron gates which no doubt in the 
days of Napoleon always had an armed guard. There 
is nothing of that sort to-day, and, indeed, St. Helena 
is an island that has " seen better days." At one time 
a flourishing settlement and an important military station 
famous as the prison of Napoleon, it is now almost 
forgotten by the rest of the world. 

We procured a carriage, drawn by two small but 
sturdy horses, and set off for the " Plantations " at the 
summit of the island where the Governor's house is 
situated. The climb was a stiff one, and to ease the 
horses we walked up most of the way. At first the road 
was bare and dry, cut from rocks of obviously volcanic 
origin, the only vegetation an occasional dusty cactus 
growing here and there. As we mounted, however, we 
entered a greener area, with vegetation which increased 
in luxuriance till, at the top, we saw that the inner parts 
of the island were really very fertile. The air also was 
purer and more fresh. I was struck by the appearance 
of the " mina " birds, which have a pretty dark brown 
and white colouring, and at first sight resemble magpies. 
They were introduced to the island for the purpose of 
killing insects. 

We had a most pleasant lunch with H.E. the 
Governor (Colonel Peel) and his wife. The house has a 
very fine outlook down a valley to the sea, and is situated 
in very beautiful grounds which contain a number of 

St. Helena to St. Vincent 299 

interesting trees : oaks, Scotch firs, spruces and Norfolk 
pines, and a tree with dark foliage and brilliant scarlet 
blossom. Numerous white arum-like lilies grow in pro- 
fusion, and many other flowers, including a beautiful 
small blue flower with a pleasant fresh scent. It was a 
very happy change from our sea life. We were intro- 
duced to a huge tortoise, reputed to be two hundred years 
old, which sometimes leaves the grounds for the road 
and causes all the horses which encounter it to shy. 
When this happens a cart is sent out to fetch it home. 
It takes six men to lift it off the road. 

After lunch we paid a visit to the tomb of Napoleon 
and the house at Longwood where he lived whilst on 
the island. The tomb is in a deep hollow, and for so 
great a man is very unimposing. It is covered with a 
large marble slab, blank, with no inscription of any sort. 
Some time after his death his body was exhumed and 
taken to Paris, when it was laid finally in Les InvalideSy 
where a magnificent and more fitting tomb has been 
erected to his memory. The house at Longwood also is 
unimposing. One can imagine how his restless spirit 
must have chafed at its confinement. The rooms are 
kept spotlessly clean, but are bare except that in the 
small chamber where he died there is a bust set on a 
long pedestal hung with a few bedraggled pieces of 
tricolour ribbon. It contained also, when we were there, 
a baby's perambulator, but was otherwise empty. The 
sight of this house caused me to feel a great pity for its 

I learned from the Governor that whilst aliye he had 
been well treated, having had an allowance from the 
English Government of ^12,000 per annum. 

The island inland from the sea is very hilly and 

300 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

divided into numerous ridges and valleys. There is not 
a really good piece of flat land anywhere. The valleys 
are very fertile. Owing to the steepness of the roads we 
proceeded most of the way on foot, leaving the paths, 
which zigzagged, and making straight traverses across 
the fields. Brambles grow profusely, and at this time a 
number of blackberries were ripe. Gorse and broom 
covered the hillsides with yellow. The chief industry 
of the island seems to be the growing of New Zealand 
flax and the making of it into fibre. During the war 
they obtained the most phenomenal prices, which, how- 
ever, have since dropped to normal. The flora generally 
of St. Helena is very interesting, for there are over sixty 
native species of plants, nearly all of them peculiar to 
the island. Every now and then we caught glimpses of 
pretty little residences situated in gardens of their own. 
We met numerous people, including a number of British 
folk, driving in their carriages — it seems to be the custom 
here to greet everyone one meets. 

The natives we met showed unmistakable signs of a 
very mixed origin. In the days of the East India Com- 
pany labour was imported from India and from China, 
and on frequent occasions natives of different parts of 
Africa have been introduced. The African type pre- 

We next visited the station of the Eastern Telegraph 
Company, where we met the manager and his wife. 
They have a very nice place, situated in beautiful 
grounds containing masses of bougainvillaea, geranium, 
scarlet hibiscus and many other kinds of blossom. They 
have bananas and guavas in abundance, but oranges do 
not grow well. 

They told me that the natives of the island, of which 

St. Helena to St. Vincent 301 

there are about 3,000, are very badly off, for there is 
practically no work for them to do. Some of them look 
half starved. A lace industry was started about twenty 
years ago by an Englishwoman. The lace is said to be 
of good quality, but I did not have the opportunity of 
seeing any. 

We returned to the ship about 6.30 p.m., and imme- 
diately set off for Ascension Island. 

In the meantime Douglas had made a brief geological 
examination of the main features of the island. There 
was not time to do more. 

Bosson, the new hand taken on at Cape Town, whom 
I had allowed to go for a run ashore, fell into a cactus 
bush, and did not forget the fact in the next few days. 

We had an uninterrupted run to Ascension Island, 
where I intended to take in coal. As we approached we 
saw hundreds of birds, which flew squawking overhead, 
but were apparently intent on their fishing, and took 
very little notice of the ship. We arrived and dropped 
anchor about 8 p.m. on August ist. 

From the shore we received a signal to ask if we had 
a clean bill of health, and soon after the officer com- 
manding the station came off to visit us in a boat pulled 
by several hefty bluejackets. He announced that at the 
moment of our arrival an interesting and unusual event 
had taken place : the birth of a child. I learned from 
him that I could get what coal I required to take me on 
to St. Vincent. 

August 2nd was a rather muggy day. The ship was 
surrounded by thousands of fish of a dark purple colour 
with white patches on their tails. They rushed at any- 
thing edible that was thrown overboard, and the water 
was lashed into foam by their efforts to get at it. It was 

302 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

really a wonderful sight. They could not be induced to 
take a hook and fought very shy of anything with a line 
on it. Green, the enthusiast, tried all morning to catch 
some, but without success. He succeeded, however, 
by putting out more line, in catching a red spiny variety 
at a deeper level. He also caught a shark. 

I sent ashore the scientists, and later went myself 
with Mcllroy and Macklin. On landing, Macklin saw 
an officer of marines to whom he said : '* Your face is 
familiar to me. Where have I seen you before ? " 
Apparently they had met somewhere in Russia. It was 
rather extraordinary meeting again in this out-of-the-way 
little spot in tropical mid-Atlantic. We went on to the 
" Club," where we met several more officers of the station 
and a number of the Eastern Telegraph Company's 

The island is bare, sandy and desolate looking. The 
barracks and officers' quarters are at sea level. The 
latter consist of neat little bungalows, about which some 
pretty blossom has been induced to grow. 

The troops and naval ratings wear solar topees, 
khaki shorts and shoes. Usually they have no stockings. 
The soldiers have khaki shirts, and the ratings white 
jumpers. There are a number of women on the island. 
They wear light cotton dresses and often have no stock- 
ings — a sane and healthy fashion for this part of the 

After lunch Macklin went off to see one of the sights 
of the island — the nesting-ground of the " Wideawakes." 
He writes : 

After leaving Commander Wild and Mick, I 
walked out to " Wideawake Valley," so called because 

St. Helena to St. Vincent 303 

of the number of birds which nest there. It is an 
extraordinary sight. There are millions of them, 
covering the ground for acres. They lay a single egg, 
about the size of a bantam's and spotted. Many of 
the chicks had hatched out. If one goes too near they 
rush frantically about and lose their parents, and if 
they intrude too much on their neighbours sometimes 
get pecked to death. Many of the birds rise up and 
come flying, with raucous din, all about one's head. 
The noise is maddening. Having seen what I wanted 
to see, I was glad to get away. I left the track I had 
come by and returned across country. The going off 
the tracks is very bad indeed, the surface of the island 
being much broken and covered with a short dry grass 
amongst which were numerous stones and boulders, 
which tired one's feet very much. The heat, too, was 
considerable, and I was glad when I reached the club 
and obtained a long, cool drink, which was very 
comforting to my parched throat. 

During the afternoon the Durham Castle came 
in. This is a bi-monthly event, and throws the 
whole island into a fluster. I took Worsley, Mcllroy 
and Macklin aboard, when we met the captain and 
the ship's doctor. I dined in the evening with the 

On August 3rd preparations were started for the 
coaling. The coal is of the poorest quality, consisting 
of dust and slag, and the price we were charged was 
exorbitant, but I was obliged to the commandant for 
being at pains to give us the best he could under the 

Scientific work was continued, and Macklin and Kerr 

304 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

went off in the boat to another part of the island to obtain 
some different varieties of fish. 

In the evening we dined at the mess of the Eastern 
Telegraph Company, where we had a very merry even- 
ing. Most of us slept ashore, being kindly put up by 
members of the telegraph company. Douglas and Marr, 
who had ascended to the high part of the island, were 
very kindly accommodated by Mr. and Mrs. Cronk at 
their pretty house on the hill. 

Coaling was continued on the 4th. The coal is put 
into bags at the dump and loaded into lighters, which 
are taken off by a tug and laid alongside the ship. The 
work is often awkward on account of the swell. It was 
a messy business, and the ship soon became covered in 
every part of her with dust. It took us many days to get 
really clean again. In order to keep an eye on things, 
I stayed near the scene of operations. Macklin ascended 
to the summit, and the following account from his diary 
is fairly descriptive of the island : 

I went ashore early with Wilkins, who had with 
him his camera and cinematograph machine. He was 
going off with the commandant in a pinnace to an 
island where there was a large number of birds. 

I first of all walked about the station and took a 
number of snapshots, after which I set off up the dusty 
track leading to Green Hill. It was a blazing hot day, 
and I wore nothing but singlet, shorts and shoes, and 
had a good sun hat. This garb was cool and gave a 
delightful sense of freedom in movement, but it 
proved, to my cost, to be an inadequate protection 
from the sun. 

I passed en route the wireless station, which has 

Photo: Dr. Mncklin 






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ft -W^ 


^ -^S 



*", .^♦l^ 



' ^A / 

^-^' y^ 


Ki^'';- . 




PJwto: IVilkins 

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St. Helena to St. Vincent 305 

been abandoned. Its six immense poles are cemented 
and stayed in such a manner as to make the removal of 
them not worth the labour. The track led up a gentle 
slope over sandy ground that supported a few low- 
lying shrubs but very little else. Farther towards the 
summit the vegetation increased a little, with cactus 
plants and a few aloes. Still farther up an attempt 
had been made to plant trees along the sides of the 
track, and, considering the dry, hard nature of the 
earth, they were growing not badly, but gave little 
impression of greenery. I continued along the main 
track till I reached eventually a point marked by the 
two halves of a boat which had been set up on 
either side* of the road. The gentle slope was now 
replaced by a more steeply rising mountain face, up 
which the main track zigzagged so much as to make 
the total distance a very long one. I accordingly left 
it for a steeper but straighter track. The air was now 
fresher, and the higher one climbed the more abund- 
ant became the vegetation, which included trees — 
palms, pines, firs, eucalyptus — and a tree with bright 
yellow flowers which I did not recognize. There were 
ferns of several sorts, small flowering shrubs, thistles 
with a yellow flower, and, higher up the mountain, a 
species of scarlet hibiscus. 

Grasshoppers were numerous. They hopped off 
the ground in much the same manner as an English 
grasshopper, but were capable of a certain power of 
flight. I saw also a number of beetles, rats and land- 
crabs, but animal life generally is scarce. 

Near the top of Green Mountain there are a few 
little residences situated in very pretty gardens. 
Indeed, the whole of the island above a certain level 

3o6 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

is very beautiful and a paradise as compared with 
the hot, dusty garrison at the base. 

Near the summit I came to a house surrounded by 
a picturesque garden containing many trees and 
shrubs with bright blossom. I learned that it belonged 
to the " Farm Superintendent." At this point a 
corporal of marines approached me, and remarking 
that I looked hot, asked me if I would like a glass of 
beer. I was hot, and the suggestion was too alluring 
to be refused, though I had doubts as to the wisdom 
of it, seeing that I had still many miles of hot walking 
ahead of me. There is a small signal station here, 
and the corporal took me to his quarters, from where 
I had a magnificent view of the slopes of the island 
and of the sea, covered with twinkling points, stretch- 
ing like a flat board to a far distant horizon. There is 
a small farm which supplied the station with fresh 
meat, milk, etc. I had a look at the cowhouses, which 
literally swarmed with rats of enormous size. There 
are also some hen-runs and pig-sties, and a number of 
sheep graze on the hills. 

Thanking the friendly corporal, I pushed on over 
a grassy slope dotted about with trees, and finally 
reached the summit, where there is a thick plantation 
of bamboos, the stems of which rattled in the strong 
south-east trades. In the middle of it there is a pond 
of very stagnant water. The view from the top is 
wonderful, every part of the island being clearly 
visible. All about the upper slopes are asphalted 
watersheds leading to storage tanks. All the water 
for the garrison and the other buildings at the base 
of the island comes from the summit, and is conducted 
there by pipes. 

St. Helena to St. Vincent 307 

Descending the farther slopes, I came to the 
entrance to a long narrow tunnel cut through the hill. 
It had been dug by the military detachment many 
years before, quite for what purpose I did not learn. 
It is low, narrow and pitchy black, but there is a hand- 
wire by using which as a guide one can go steadily 
forward. It emerges in a corner of the farm superin- 
tendent's garden. 

I had lunch on the summit with Mr. and Mrs. 
Cronk. They have two pretty children. Mr. Cronk 
has been farm superintendent for twenty-five years. 
It must be a funny life in this remote spot. He is 
responsible for all the vegetation, and takes a great 
pride in his work — certainly he has made his mark on 
the world. The whole garrison is being removed, and 
is due to leave in a few months. He goes too, and 
regrets that no one is being left to carry on the work 
he has so carefully inaugurated. He has had to over- 
come many difficulties, and is disappointed that the 
labour of so many years will be thrown away. The big 
plants grow all right and do not require much atten- 
tion. The young ones must be shaded from the fierce 
sun, and unless this shade is provided artificially the 
only seeds that flourish are those which fall beside the 
parent plant and derive shade and a certain amount 
of moisture from it. The summit of the island, being 
often clouded in mist, is very damp, and those who 
live there for any length of time suffer considerably 
from rheumatism. 

I descended towards " Wideawake " Plain again, 
visited the circular crater of a Kolcano, and crossed it 
to enter a belt of loose, broken pieces of cellular 
lava. The inside was covered with sand, was bare of 

3o8 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

vegetation, and had round it a circular track which 
gives it the name of the " Devil's Horse-ring." 

On my way back I passed again oyer a sandy 
plain, where I saw a number of small rabbits. I 
enjoyed my day immensely and was pleasantly 
fatigued after my climbing. I suffered badly from 
sunburn, which will probably get worse in the next few 
days. My neck and legs are chiefly affected. Marr, 
who had spent the day with Douglas on a geological 
expedition, was also badly burned, and had a tempera- 
ture of 103^ F. I had to put him to bed. . . . 

The coaling was completed during the afternoon. 

We had many visitors to see us off, and left finally 
at 4.30 P.M., setting course for St. Vincent. 

The next part of our journey proved uneventful. 
We crossed the equator to run into hotter weather, the 
sun being near its northern limit of declination. With 
a light following wind there was no draught, and the 
ship was covered daily with dust and ashes from the very 
dirty Ascension Island coal. So bad did it turn out that 
Kerr and his staff had the greatest difficulty in maintain- 
ing a sufficient pressure of steam, and the work of the 
stokers was consequently very hard. Young, Ross and 
Murray (a new hand taken on at Cape Town) stuck 
splendidly to their work during this uncomfortable and 
trying stage of the journey. 

We obtained at Ascension Island a number of live 
baby turtles, which I proposed to present to the Marine 
Biological Laboratory at Plymouth. On its staff are 
two old shipmates of mine, Messrs. Hodson, of the 
Discovery, and Clark, of the Endurance, We placed 
the turtles in one of the waterbutts on the after deck, 

thoto : IViikhis 


St. Helena to St. Vincent 309 

where Wilkins fed them on small pieces of flying fish. 
They spent the whole day diving for pieces and fought 
with each other for possession of them. They are 
curious little creatures. 

One of the men brought off a small rabbit, of which 
a few run wild on Ascension Island. It became a great 
pet and was most extraordinarily tame. 

We arrived at St. Vincent on August i8th, where we 
completed our coaling. Here, as on our outward trip, 
we received kindness from the members of Messrs. 
Wilson, Sons and Company, Limited, and were enter- 
tained by the Eastern Telegraph Company mess. 

Douglas and Wilkins carried on their investigations. 
Macklin, Jeffrey and Green, our fishing enthusiasts, 
went off to bring in a supply of fish, but returned with 
a small result, their time having been spent apparently 
in sailing the surf -boat out to Bird Rock and in bathing. 



WE left on Sunday (20th), intending to call at 
Madeira, but the north-east trades proving too 
much for the Quest I adopted the sailing ship route and 
proceeded '' full and by " in the direction of the Azores. 
Conditions were now more pleasant than we had had 
them since setting out from England at the commence- 
ment of our enterprise. The weather became daily 
cooler and the air fresher. The winds blew the dust and 
ashes away to leeward, and we were able to have a 
clean ship. 

It was quite like the old days, the young, happy days 
of those fine old clipper ships of Messrs. Devitt and 

Moore : 

Beating- up for the western isles 

Close hauled in the north-east trades. 

Early in the morning of September 3rd we picked up 
the Azores, and about 5 p.m. entered the harbour of 
Ponta del Gada, in San Miguel. I was anxious to give 
the hull a coating of paint, but as it was Sunday, and a 
feast day, there was no hope of any work being done. 

We stayed two days, the only incident of interest 
being a visit to the United States ship Wilmington^ 
which had put in here with a broken crank shaft on her 
way home from Shanghai. The captain and some of his 
officers, in turn, visited us. 




Tbe Course of the Quests Outwards and Inwards 

Our work done, we set out, and on a perfect evening 
proceeded along the coast of the island, which is very 
picturesque. The land is terraced, and there is evidently 
a considerable amount of intensive cultivation. Pretty 
little villages nestle in its hollows, and windmills are 
dotted all about the hills. The Quest proceeded 
smoothly. The sea was calm, and in the still air of this 
lovely summer evening one felt that nothing could be 
more perfect and that one could go on and on for ever. 
We had had so much bad weather and our trip through- 

312 Shackleton's Last Voyage 

out had been so arduous that we felt this respite all the 

I had hoped on leaving the Azores to run imme- 
diately into westerly winds, but for some days we had 
light north-easters. The wind finally came round to 
north-west and blew up strongly on our beam. The 
ocean gathered itself up for one more fling at us, but it 
was but a half-hearted one; we were homeward bound, 
and what did we care? In a few days we should be in 
England, and though I have experienced many goings 
and comings since those unforgettable first ones, the 
parting never seems to lose its hurt nor the home-coming 

its thrill. 

God gave all men all earth to love, 

But since our hearts are small, 

Ordained for each one spot should prove 

Beloved over all ; . . . — Kipling. 

On September i6th we entered Plymouth Sound 
and anchored in Cawsand Bay. As was fitting, the first 
man to join the ship was Mr. Rowett, who gave us the 
warmest of welcomes home. He was very interested in 
all I had to tell him, but was deeply touched when I 
spoke of our old " Boss " whom we had left " down 

So we returned, quietly, as was befitting. My task 
when the leadership fell on my shoulders was to " carry 
on." This, with the aid of the men who gave me 
their unquestioning obedience and showed unswerving 
loyalty, I was able to do. It gave me great pleasure 
when Mr. Rowett, whose support and co-operation alone 
made the expedition possible, said, " Old man, youVe 
done splendidly ! " 

We had made observations and brought back a mass 

Home 313 

of data gathered through long days of hardship and 
bitter toil, and I hope, when all is sorted and fully 
worked up, that our efforts may prove of value in 
helping to solve the great natural problems that still 
perplex us. 

I have taken part in five expeditions to the Antarctic, 
and though I think that my work there is done, I shall 
never cease to feel glad that it has fallen to my lot to 
pioneer and guide the groping fingers of Knowledge on 
the white edges of the world. 


M.C., M.Sc, Geologist to the Expedition. 

As planned by the late Sir Ernest H. Shackleton the voyage of 
the Quest to Southern Regions was intended to explore the coast 
from Enderby Land westwards to Coats Land, a length of 
approximately 2,500 miles. On the routes to and from this main 
objective it was his intention to call at many seldom-visited islands 
in the Atlantic, Southern, Indian and Pacific Oceans. 

A part of the second objective was attained, and the 
reader who desires to learn of the detailed geological results 
of the expedition is asked to consult the full scientific report 
which is now being prepared, and which, by the courtesy of the 
authorities of the British Museum of Natural History, is to be 
published as one of their Memoirs. It is the purpose of the writer 
in these notes to give an outline of the general geology of the 
islands which were visited. The names given to the rocks are 
only field terms, as no microscopic examination has been made 
up to the present. 

Methods Employed 

It was found to be seldom possible to do accurate and close 
geological mapping, owing to the limited time that was available 
for work ashore. Maps of the areas had to be made, as those 
of the Admiralty are of too small a scale to do more than provide 
a skeleton upon which the larger scale sketches can be based. 
The sketches were generally the result of a rapid reconnaissance 
with plane table or compass and pace, or in some cases simply 
a freehand sketch from the summit of a ridge. 

Wherever possible hand specimens were collected and the 
general geological associations noted. 

The order in which the following islands are described is 
not that in which they were visited, but they are grouped as 
follows : 

{South Georgia (68) 
zlTodovskr^'si Sand- 

wich Gp. (o) 




Islands of the South Atlantic 

Islands of the Mid-Atlantic 

Gough Island (5) 
Tristan da Cunha (2^) 
Nightingale (i) 
Middle (i) 
Stoltenhoff (o) 
Inaccessible (1) 

St. Paul's Rocks (1/2) 
Sao Miguel A9ores, St. Vin- 
cent (Cape Verdes) (3) 
Ascension (3) 
St. Helena (i) 
(The numbers in brackets refer to the days spent ashore.) 


South Georgia. — Lat. 54° S. Long. 37° W. 

This island is about 116 miles long by 20 miles wide, with the 
longer axis lying in a general N.W. and S.E. direction. It has 
the appearance of an upland dissected by cirque recession and 

\ -^...-.-^.-^-^-^^^-^ 

enlargement. The highest peak, Mount Paget, which is an 
isolated remnant of the upland, is about 8,000 feet high. 

The average peaks in the comb ridges are about 2,000 feet, 
and the average level of the interior would be placed by the writer 
as about 600 feet above sea level. The glacial valleys run in 

3i6 Appendix 

general across the longer axis and are separated from each other 
by comb ridges. The majority of the glaciers show signs of 
withdrawal. At the N.W. end of the island many of the valleys 
are free of ice altogether. 

One interesting investigation was carried out at Royal Bay, 
where the Ross Glacier comes down to the sea. The position of 
the foot of the glacier relative to the shore was first measured 
by the Gauss Expedition of 1882, then again by Nordenskjold in 
1902, and then by the members of the Quest in 1922. 

These measurements show this interesting fact — that there was 
an advance of the foot of over 4,000 feet during the period 1882 
to 1902, and that now it is back in the position of 1882. It is 
suggested that this does not indicate any general advance or 
withdrawal, but rather that the glacier, which is operating, to use 
an hydraulic term, under a high head is being forced out to sea 
where the foot is afloat. It will continue to advance until the 
effect of the rollers on the floating mass of ice overcomes the 
tensile strength of the ice and it breaks away. If we assume that 
twenty (20) years represent this period (it may be a multiple of 
a smaller period), then this gives an advance per year of about 
two hundred and twenty (220) feet. 


From Cooper Bay to Bird Island the rocks seen by the writer 
were of sedimentary origin. They are of the nature of grits, 
tuffs and phyllites. To the east of Cooper Bay the rocks are 
igneous. The basement is of a basic nature, with flows, at 
least two in number, over it. Back from Cooper Bay, and just 
east of the contact with the sediments, there is a small stock 
of a more acid rock, which has been called a syenite. 

A provisional table is here drawn up to show the relative age 
relations, with the more recent at the top : 


Soilit'^^ ^ I I^oleritic dykes cutting 

Gabbro J t''*^'- 


Tectonic Movements 

The sedimentary rocks have been subject to considerable 
folding and faulting. From the direction of the folds and the 
general trend of the line of schistosity it would appear that the 
pressure had come from the S.S.W. or N.N.E, 





Photos: Wilkins 



Photos: Wilkius 





A few fossils of a very indefinite character were obtained, 
and are now being worked out/ Provisionally it may be said 
that one, a fossil plant probably of the Araucaria type, points 
to an age not older than lower carboniferous. 

Elephant Island. — Lat. 61° 5. Long. 55O W. 

This is one of the easterly islands in the Powell group of the 
South Shetlands, and was only landed on at two points. Lookout 
Harbour and Minstrel Bay. 


The features of Elephant Island probably are similar to what 
those of South Georgia were before the intense glacial erosion 
sculptured the island as already described. 

SEAL fflLs q 




t^ 9^,^ (^$^ NARROW I. 




It is a plateau 300 feet at the rim, but rising gently towards 
the interior. It appeared to be covered by an ice sheet, and the 
same may be said of Clarence Island, which lies a few miles to 
the eastward; only in the latter case there was a definite cliff of 
ice visible above the rock face. 

The glaciers were more of the hanging than of the valley type. 
Especially was this so on the west coast. 

1 W. T, Gordon, D.Sc, King's College, London. 

3i8 Appendix 


The rock specimens collected and the little mapping which 
was done indicate that the island is composed mostly of sedi- 
mentary rocks which have been much metamorphosed. Phyllites 
predominated, but various schists, slates and banded limestones 
were also seen. 

Zavodovski. — Lat. 56° S. Long. 27° W. 

This island, the most northerly in the South Sandwich group, 
was not landed on by the members of the Quest, and the follow- 
ing observations from the ship must be considered only probable 
and in no way certain. 

The island is of volcanic origin, rising as a cone from the 
sea. The upper levels were not seen by us, but the height of the 
summit is given by Bellingshausen as 1,200 feet. The cliff rises 
vertically from the sea about 40 feet, and then there is a long, 
gentle slope gradually getting steeper. 

The lava flows seen on the cliff face appeared to consist of a 
compact columnar basalt at the base. Above there was a line of 
red cinder, and above this again what looked to be rough pahoehoe 
lava. A number of clefts and vents were seen on the face of the 
cliff, and from these there issued bluish fumes. 

Soundings with the Kelvin were taken every half-mile or so, 
and the material collected corresponds with the basalts and cinder 

It was unfortunate that we were unable to visit the other 
islands in this group, for with the exception of the scanty reports 
of Bellingshausen, C. A. Larsen and a German expedition, the 
geology and natural history are practically unknown, and the 
existing charts are not by any means complete. 

PETROLOGICAL REPORT, by W. Campbell Smith, M.C, 
M.A., British Museum of Natural History. 

Rock fragments washed from material dredged at 19 fathoms 
off Zavodovski, South Sandwich group, 20/1/22. 

The sample consisted of a few grammes of rounded black 
pellets varying in diameter from i to 5 mm. They consisted of 
the following : 

Ten dense black glassy basalts. All appear free of olivine. 
Some are crowded with minute laths of plagioclase ; others 
contain fewer minute laths but show a few small phenocrysts 
of plagioclase, or of augite, or both. 

Four dense dark-brown glassy olivine-basalts, some con- 
taining many crystals of plagioclase, and a few crystals of 
olivine and augite. The glass is crowded densely with 
magnetite and sometimes with other undetermined microliths. 

Appendix 319 

Four rather paler basalts with holocrystalline-porphyritic 
texture. These contain very small phenocrysts of plagioclase 
and sometimes of augite, in a ground mass of very minute 
laths of felspar and grains of augite and magnetite. The 
texture of the ground mass is intergranular. One of the 
specimens contained no augite phenocrysts, but rather 
numerous microphenocrysts of magnetite. 

Tvi^o small fragments of pale basalt-glass, deep olive-buff 
in colour. Microliths are absent in one specimen, but they 
are abundant in the other and consist of small laths of plagio- 
clase, and minute prisms of augite and a few crystals of what 
is probably olivine. The felspar laths gave extinction angles 
of 15°, but only a very few measurements could be made. 
This material resembles the pale patches of glass in the 
palagonite tuffs of Sicily and of Kerguelen Land,^ and a 
somewhat similar though darker coloured rock has been de- 
scribed from Schwartzenfels Hesse as vitrophyric basalt, and 
has been elegantly figured by Berwerth.' 

GouGH Island. — Lat. 40° 5. Long, 10° W. 

Cough Island lies roughly 200 miles south of the Tristan da 
Cunha group. It is 8 miles long by 3 miles wide. 


The island forms a monoclinal block with dip slopes to the 
west and escarpments to the east. The highest point on the 
long ridge which runs down the longer axis of the island is 
about 2,915 feet above sea level. 

The west side of the ridge goes down in a long slope to the 
cliffs bordering the sea. 

The escarpments on the east side are cut by three or four 
glens. The largest one, about half-way down the coast, gives 
access to the interior. 

The most striking feature, looking up the glen, is the great 
stock of an acid intrusive rock, which rises to 2,270 feet. It 
can best be described in the words of Scott : 

"Shooting abruptly from the dell 
Its thunder splintered pinnacle." 

The island is the result of a series of fissure flows of a basaltic 
and trachytic nature. These flows have been intruded by the 

1 Renard (A). Voyage of H.M.S. Challenger, Phys. and Chem., Vol. ii, i88g, p. 120 
« Berwerth (F). Mikroskopische Structurbilder der Massengesteine, Lief II, No 16 



stock just mentioned above, and many fissures were opened by 
it. These have subsequently been filled by dykes. The rock 
forming the dykes is very hard, with the result that they are now 
a very prominent feature, and stand up in some cases about 
50 feet above the surrounding country. This is due, of course, 
to differential weathering. 

It is probable that the east coast represents a fault plane, 
but as the erosion has been great, direct evidence is wanting. 
Apart from this fault no faulting nor folding was observed. 

Tristan da Cunha. — Lat. 37O S. Long. 12^ W. 

Tristan is an island octagonal in plan, about 8 miles across. 
It rises as a prism for about 2,000 feet, and then tapers off as a 
cone to about 6,400 feet above sea level. The crater is now filled 
with water, and at that level is about 200 feet across. The rain- 
fall on the upper slopes is very great, and they are deeply 
eroded. At the foot of the cliff, on the northern shore, there is a 
gently sloping lava plain, upon which the settlement is situated. 

Hardy Rock^ 
Swam Bay 

West Pb. 

Cotton Bay 


■2CA MlLtS 

In extent it is about 3^ miles long by half a mile wide. About 
midway between the extremities there are a few small craters 
rising above the plain. The plain is grass clothed, and the upper 
slopes are covered in moss, bracken and scrub trees. This 


f/iotoi : Wilkins. 


Appendix 321 

vegetation continues up to about 4,000 feet, above which point 
the rocks are bare. 


The island consists of a great series of lava flows which have 
poured from the volcano, and are of the nature of scoriae, cinder, 
trachyte and basalt in succeeding and alternating layers. As is 
so common on these volcanic islands, the lower lava is generally 
a hard, compact basalt showing rough columnar structure. 

Only one section was observed, which is placed below, but 
there is good reason to believe that to the west, in the neigh- 
bourhood of Swain Bay, more complex conditions exist, as many 
samples of bombs of a rock carrying large crystals of felspar 
and hornblende and other coarse grained rocks were given to 
the writer by some of the islanders, who stated that they came 
from this locality. 

Preliminary note by W. Campbell Smith, M.C, M.A., 
on the samples given by islanders at Tristan da Cunha and 
reported to have come from the neighbourhood of Swain Bay. 
The specimens can be grouped in four types : 

(1) Rocks with felspar almost nil. Probably consist mainly 

hornblende and pyroxene, with perhaps some olivine, 
apatite and magnetite. 

(2) Rocks with a little felspar and characterized by large 

poikilitic plates of hornblende. These contain abundant 
pyroxene, and some olivine, apatite and magnetite. 

(3) Rocks with long, thin blades of hornblende in a fine- 

grained matrix of labradorite, and with some patches of 
black "glass" and abundant minute prisms of apatite. 
In hand specimens these look like dyke-rocks, but I 
think the texture and the patches of magnetite show that 
they are segregations. 

(4) Coarse-grained rocks with perhaps more felspar than horn- 

blende. Hornblende in large crystals in a matrix of 
labradorite. The texture is coarser than in the preceding 
type. Felspars reach 2 or 3 mm. in diameter. The 
hornblende includes some small ctystals of yellow 
pyroxene. Apatite and magnetite are given abundant. 

All four types appear to be closely inter-related. They con- 
tain the same minerals in varying proportions and probably grade 
one into the other. 

The obsidian and the pieces of red glass are basalt glass, and 
are probably similar to the specimen described by Renard in the 
Report on the Challenger Collection, p. 82. He states that the 
inhabitants use the rock for striking fire. 





















To sea 

Rock provisionally named. 

Scoriae and vesicular basalt. 

Loose scoriae and bombs. 



Vesicular basalt. 

Trachytic agglomerate. 

Compact basalt. 

Red scoriae. 



Scoriae and basalt. 

Basalt and scoriae. 

Scoriae and basalt. 

Grey basalt. 
(Break in the observations). 

Basalt and scoriae. 
(Break in the observations). 



Compact basalt. 


Forming summit. 
Crater cone. 

A contact. 
A contact. 
A contact. 

A contact. 

fThis rock is used for 
building the dwell- 
ings by the inhabi- 

Rough columnar 

A number of vapour vents were observed at different points. 

It is apparent that the small craters mentioned above as exist- 
ing on the settlement plain sprang up after the main period of 
eruption when the island was built. 

To the west and about 22 miles from Tristan there are the four 
islands — Nightingale, Middle, Stoltenhoff and Inaccessible. 

Topography Nightingale 

This island, which is the most southerly of the group, is 
rectangular in plan, one mile by three-quarters. High cliffs bound 
the south, east and west sides. The northern slopes descend 
gradually to the sea, where they terminate in cliffs about 30 feet 

The highest point is on the east side of the island, and is about 
1, 000 teet above sea level. It is connected by a low featured col 



to the high land to the south-west. To the west, that is, towards 
the interior of the island, there is a depressed area which now has 
a small pond in it. It is probable that this was once the crater 
from which the lavas issued. 

iTOLTCNworr I 

mioolc z 


)* // ^ fSJLAUiUL, 


One day only was available for work on this island, and orders 
were that the supposed guano deposits which were reported at the 
north side were to be examined. These deposits are of no 
economic value, and an analysis is here appended. 

Certificate of Analysis. 

Ogston and Moore, 

Analytical Chemists, 

8g Aldgate, London. 
July 28, 1922. 
Guano from Nightingale Island. 

Moisture 72.12 

Organic matter and ammonia salts 24.70 

Phosphoric acid nil 

Lime nil 

Magnesia, alkalies, etc 1.60 

Silicious matter i-5^ 


324 Appendix 

Guano jrom Cave on Middle Island. 



Organic matter and ammonia salts 


Phosphoric acid 



5- 10 

Magnesia, alkalies, etc 


Silicious matter 



The rocks, however, appeared to be in general of a trachytic 
Topography Middle Island 

Middle Island lies less than half a mile to the north of Nightin- 
gale. It is in plan about a quarter of a mile square, and rises 
to a height of about 200 feet. It is flat-topped, with minor 


There have been questions asked as to the origin of Middle 
Island, and to the writer, who had this in mind when visiting the 
island, the following were the reasons for its existence. 

The trachytic flows from Nightingale probably extended at 
one time about a mile farther to the north than the present 
northern shore of Nightingale. This is evidenced by the trachytic 
agglomerate and trachyte seen on Middle. Following this there 
was an effusion of a hard, compact lava from a neck which exists 
on the latter island. The border of the neck is marked by a 
breccia. The dykes emanating from this lava are not seen on 
Nightingale, but some of the rocks which infest the channel 
between the islands are probably their eroded remains. The 
action of the sea on the mass of altered trachyte between Middle 
and Nightingale Islands has in the course of time cut a channel 

^^^^ ' Stoltenhoff 

It is not possible to land on this island, as it rises sheer from 
the sea to about 200 feet. It is flat-topped, and in area about 
500 yards by 150 yards. The rock of which it is composed 
appears to be of a trachytic nature, and may be the northern 
limit of the flows from Nightingale, which have already been 
mentioned ; it may, however, be a centre of activity, such as is 
described as existing on Middle Island. 

Topography Inaccessible Island 

Eleven miles to the N.N.W. from Stoltenhoff is this island, 
which is the most northerly one of the group. In plan it is pear- 
shaped, being about 3 miles by 2^ 



In its general features it is a basin, being a great caldera, the 
south-east side of which has been blown out. A cone rises to 
about 1,500 feet towards the north-east of the depressed central 
area. The interior is broken country clothed in verdure, and 
on account of the high rim, which affords protection from the 
winds, would be suitable for human habitation. A stream winds 
through the interior, finally falling in a beautiful cascade to the 
North Pt, 

West PL 

Pyramid ;{•<<> South Hill 


* ^ f* \ u1 i 

beach at the north-east shore, where a landing is easily made if 
the wind is not from the north. 


The central cone is a mass of scoriae, and the section from here 
to the sea near the waterfall shows that there have been succes- 
sive flows of basalt and trachyte. The high cliffs to the west of 
the landing are cut by a series of parallel dykes, which are an 
outstanding feature. 

The St. Paul's Rocks 
These lie just north of the equator, almost midway between 
Africa and Brazil. These rocks are almost unique in occurrence, 
for, as Charles Darwin remarks in his journal, "Its mineralogical 
constitution is not simple. ... It is a remarkable fact that all 
the many small islands, lying far from any continent, with the 
exception of the Seychelles and this little point of rock, are com- 
posed either of coral or erupted matter." 



The St. Paul's Rocks are a group of eight or nine small rocky 
islands, the largest of which is only about 350 feet long by 150 
feet wide. This island and the most northerly were the only ones 
where a landing was effected. 

The whole of the southerly portion of the main island is com- 
posed of a highly weathered rock which has thin veinlets of 
serpentine cutting through it. Running in a north and south 
direction, and in places dragged and folded and cutting this 





Stale :- | Inch - too fi»«c. 

0«nu<i Ju»4t9ftBn<UUcMr««y. 

Bl 3 46 ref«r to samples taken 

formation, there is a dyke, which stands up prominently from the 
main country rock. About 30 yards to the east the rock is cut by 
a series of irregular interlacing narrow dykes having the appear- 
ance of old concrete. The ground mass is hard and to the eye 
amorphous. It contains rounded pebbles and possibly shell 

Towards the centre of the main island the rock formation 
changes abruptly to a compact glassy green rock, probably a 
peridotite. It has developed a jointing, and but for the con- 
glomerate forms the remainder of the island and possibly the other 
islands as well, because the country rock on the north island is of 
a similar nature. 

Appendix 327 

Along the inside of the central basin at two points there 
occurs a conglomerate — pebbles ranging from 3 inches in diameter 
to a fraction of an inch cemented in a matrix. 

Towards the north end there is a fault which crosses the 
island in a N.W. and S.E. direction, and parallel to which there is 
a dark, rusty dyke. 

In two or three places on the main island, one of which is 
near this fault, there are small pot holes. There was a rounded 
boulder in each, and probably, as the sea comes swirling in at 
high tide, a rotary motion is given to the boulder and the pot hole 

The general formation of the islands might be described as 
a stock of glassy peridotite which has risen from the bed of the 
ocean and of which only the highest points are now visible. 

SaS Miguel Azores, St. Vincent (Cape Verde), Ascension and 

St. Helena 
The above islands were called at and examined, but as the 
geology has already been described by others who had more time 
at their disposal, no new light was thrown on them. The visits, 
however, were valuable in that they will enable the wTiter to 
compare the conditions existing at these places with the seldom 
visited islands already above described. 


In collaboration with the hydrographer, material from the 
sea floor was obtained by soundings in various localities. This 
material is being examined microscopically, and its physical 
properties are being determined (specific gravity, gradation of 
sizes, radioactivity, etc.). 


The general reader is reminded that the geological observa- 
tions recorded here are in no way complete. Much detailed work 
is necessary on these various islands before the full record can 
be written. Nature has laid open the story of her history to 
the careful investigator, but from the casual one she withholds 
the deeper meaning. 


The writer wishes in conclusion to thank the following for 
their hearty co-operation, which made the above results possible : 

Capt. G. H. Wilkins, M.C., F.R.G.S. 
Major C. R. Carr, D.F.C. 
Messrs. Dell, Argles and Marr. 

328 Appendix 

The work at South Georgia would have been impossible but 
for the kind assistance of the managers of the whaling com- 
panies : j^^ j)g pgg^^ Company, of Buenos Aires 

The Southern Whaling Company (Lever Bros.) 

The Tonsberg Company, of Norway 

The Westfahl Company, of Norway 

The Salvesen Company, of Leith, Scotland 

The excellent surveying instruments which were so kindly 
lent by Messrs. Troughton and Simms proved invaluable under all 

Thanks are specially due to Mr. John Quiller Rowett, LL.D., 
without whose generous support the expedition would have been 



Soon after leaving England numbers of landbirds were seen about 
the ship. In position lat. 43° 52' S. and 11° 51' W. long, we saw 
a heron passing overhead, steering in a S.S.E. direction towards 
the northern coast of Africa. After leaving Lisbon on the way to 
Madeira, numbers of robins, wrens, doves, larks and sparrows 
flew aboard in an exhausted condition. They were captured, 
measured and their colourings noted, afterwards given food and 
water, and allowed to go free. One dove that came near the ship 
was so exhausted that it fell several times into the sea, which was 
very choppy. We expected it to drown, but on each occasion it 
rose from the break of the wave and finally settled on the topsail 
yard, where it rested and dried itself, and finally set off with 
renewed vigour in the direction of land. Mother Carey's Chickens 
joined us soon after our start, and we were rarely without them 
throughout the voyage. 

At St. Vincent we collected specimens of vultures, mostly black 
or dark brown, but some were white with black markings. A few 
crows, larks and other small binds were seen. A white owl was 
presented to the naturalist by one of the residents. The species 
is not common to the island, but is reported to have been seen 
after high winds blowing from the mainland. 

In latitude 60° 26' N. we were surrounded by a particularly 
large school of porpoises, and secured one by harpooning it from 
the bowsprit. It was a male, 7 feet 7 inches in length, and the 
stomach contained the remains of 5 squids and 114 octopus beaks. 

We visited St. Paul's Rocks on November 8th, when two species 

Appendix 329 

of birds were found to be nesting : the Noddy Tern and the Booby. 
The Noddy Tern {Anous stolidus) is shy, and few except those 
with young remained on the island. We collected some of their 
eggs, many of them addled. The young were almost fully fledged, 
but each was attended by the parent bird, which stayed to defend 
it. These birds varied largely in colourings, chiefly in the degrees 
of white and lavender grey of the forehead and back of the neck, 
the lighter phase being the more common. Nests were built 
roughly to a height of from 12 to 15 cm., and composed largely 
of seaweed and guano. Built-up nests predominated, but several 
eggs and young were found in depressions in the broken rocks. 
The Brown Gannet, or Booby (Sula leucogastra)^ is so called 
from its stupid expression. The nests consisted of rocks, a few 
feathers and guano, or merely depressions in the rock. We 
collected some eggs and several young ones in all stages, from 
one which was newly hatched, without down or feathers and eyes 
closed, to those which were almost fully fledged. The nests are 
so set in the irregular and sloping surfaces that the birds con- 
tinually foul each other, the young especially becoming very filthy 
in this way. They live largely, if not entirely, on flying fish, and 
gorge themselves so heavily with them that when taking flight 
on our going amongst them each bird disgorged one, two or three 
fish in different stages of digestion. 

Crabs abound on the rocks. They are very active and nimble, 
and at the approach of man scramble into crevices. They are able 
to jump, and on several occasions were seen to gather their legs 
under them and leap squarely forward a distance of two or three 
feet. Some grow to large size and develop powerful claws, but 
apparently they make no attempt to seize the birds, the chicks or 
the eggs. When the adult bird disgorged on rising, the crabs 
hastened to seize the flying fish, and, tearing them to pieces, 
crammed them voraciously into their jaws. There is a lagoon in 
the middle of the rocks, the floor of which is covered with marine 
plants of many varieties, whilst fish swim to and fro in great 
numbers. Sharks, varying in length from four to eight feet, 
swarmed in it, and we harpooned several. The stomachs of most 
of them were empty, and the others contained only a few squids. 
A full description of the fish of St. Paul's Rocks will be found 
elsewhere. Numerous specimens of all species were taken from 
the rocks and preserved for sending to the museums. 

We left Rio de Janeiro on January i8th for South Georgia. 
During this part of the journey we were followed by stormy 
petrels, Wilson petrels, wandering albatross, mollymauks, Cape 
pigeons, Cape hens, sooty albatross, and saw several terns. As 
we neared the island we observed penguins, skua gulls and giant 
petrels, and, as we passed along the coast, prions, diving petrels 
and dominican gulls. 

330 Appendix 

The whaling stations of South Georgia are visited by many 
varieties of seabirds, which congregate there in hundreds of 
thousands for the offal which finds its way into the sea. By act- 
ing as scavengers they serve a very useful purpose. Cape pigeons 
thickly cover the water for hundreds of square yards and present a 
really extraordinary sight. They chatter and squabble incessantly. 
Terns flit gracefully about, never settling on the water, but making 
occasional short dives for morsels. Wilson petrels flit like fairies 
over the surface, their feet touching, but their bodies never enter- 
ing the sea. Dominican gulls, skua gulls, mollymauks and giant 
petrels also come about in hundreds, for there is food in abundance 
in the harbours. 

There are about twenty-four species of birds in South Georgia, 
including a wagtail (Anthus antarcticus), which is found on the 
lower slopes of the island about the beaches. The Wandering 
Albatross {Diomedea exulans) is the most stately and graceful 
of all flying birds, yet when seen ashore or at close range 
has a curiously foolish expression. It nests on the grassy 
promontories of the main island and on some of the smaller 
outlying islets. The nests are pyramidal mounds composed of 
tussock grass, mud and a few feathers. The hen lays one egg, 
which the parent birds take turns in incubating. The chicks are 
pretty white fluffy things, which later take on a brown adult 
plumage. As the bird increases in size so the brown colouring 
gives way to a white phase, the very old ones being almost entirely 
white. The nesting season commences about the middle of January. 
Wilkins observed that inter-mating took place between birds of 
neighbouring nests, a male bird wandering off to visit an already 
mated female. This usually took place when the husband bird was 
out at sea in search of food, but occasionally it was observed that 
the apparently true mate would appear on the scene, and, discover- 
ing the intruder, would show fight, and a battle would ensue. 
This, however, was never a serious matter, and was mainly an 
exhibition of side-stepping, feints and vicious snaps of the beaks, 
but the combatants rarely came to real pecking or blows. The 
female looked on and kept up a chattering noise with the bill whilst 
the fight lasted. Only once was a female seen to leave nest and 
egg unprotected. In a moment a skua had swept down and thrust 
his beak into the egg. The albatross does not nest on the north- 
east coast of South Georgia farther south than Possession Bay. 

The Sooty Albatross {Phoehetria palpehrata) rivals, or even 
excels the " Wanderer" in gracefulness of flight. It is not very 
common in South Georgia, those found being at isolated points 
on the north-western coast. 

The Blackbrowed xMbatross, or Mollymauk, is found in two 
varieties {Thalassogeron melanophrys and T. chrysostoma). They 
are found breeding at the north-western end and on the neighbour- 

Appendix 33i 

ing islets. Numbers of the former are common ; of the latter, rare. 
Wilkins discovered a nest and egg, and succeeded in obtaining 
specimens — the first to be collected. He also cinematographed 
the bird on its nest. The newly hatched chick is covered with 
light grey down, slightly darker on the wings, and increasing in 
depth of colour with age. The bill is a dark horn colour, the iris 
light brown, and the feet light grey. 

The Giant Petrel — Nellie, or Stinker — (Ossijraga gigantea) is 
found nesting on all the grassy bluffs, but most commonly on the 
islets of the Bay of Isles, amongst the "Wanderers." They are 
exceedingly ugly and ungainly, have an unpleasant smell, and 
their feathers are infested with ticks. 

Cape Hens [Majaqueus aequinoctialis) are seldom seen near 
land except in the evening, when they sit at the doors of their 
burrows chattering away in neighbourly fashion. 

Wilson Petrels flock in great numbers about the whaling 
stations. They nest in burrows. 

The Diving Petrel {Pelecanoides urinatrix) frequents the west 
coast of South Georgia in greatest numbers, but an occasional 
one may be found at any place near the shore.* 

Whale Birds (Prion) are very common on most of the small 
islands and on some places on the main island. They live in 
burrows. They are rarely seen by day, as they can only leave 
and return to the burrows under cover of darkness, for they are 
preyed upon relentlessly by the skua gulls. They flock out tO' sea 
in clouds just after nightfall and return in the early morning. 
Those which fail to get in by daybreak almost certainly fall 
victims to the rapacious skuas, which are responsible for the death 
of thousands of them yearly. They lay a single egg. 

Cape Pigeons {Daption capensis) are the brightest and cheeriest 
of all seabirds. They frequent the whaling stations in hundreds 
of thousands. Their chattering and chaffering as they squabble 
over choice pieces of offal goes on unceasingly all day and all 
night. They nest in clefts high up in the cliff faces. 

Snow Petrels {Pagodroma nivea) have been seen in the vicinity 
of the island, but are rare.' 

Silver-Grey Petrels (Priocella glacialoides) were seen during 
our second visit to the island, but are also rare in this locality. 

There are two varieties of skua gull : Megalestris McCormicki 
and M. antarctica. They are pirates and live by acts of piracy. 
All the seabirds have in one way or another to protect themselves 
from their depredations. The smaller birds live in narrow clefts 
or in burrows. The larger birds, which nest in the open, have to 
keep a continuous watch over nest and chick. The skua Is brown 


^ Mr. Clark, the biologist of the Endurance, found them nesting in burrows 

the middle of Moraine Plain, Cumberland Bay. 

* Mr. Clark found them in numbers at Larsen Harbour in November, 1914. 

332 Appendix 

coloured and has a strong, curved, hawk-like beak. Its habits 
and mode of life present a fascinating- study, but space prevents a 
full description. Skuas make their nests on grassy slopes about the 
island, and resent any approach by strangers. Often when pro- 
ceeding over the bluffs one is annoyed by these birds, which have a 
disconcerting habit of circling in the air, to descend with a swoop 
and a loud rush of air straight at one's head, clearing it by only a 
few inches. 

The Dominican Gull {Larus dominicanus) is a fine-looking 
black-backed gull which nests in the tussock grass. It is found 
in large numbers about the whaling station. 

The Tern {Sterna vittata) is a prettily-marked little bird which 
nests in the open, and is also found about the stations. It has a 
pretty, graceful flight, and hovers continually above the surface 
looking for scraps, in search of which it occasionally makes short 

The Blue-Eyed Shag {Phalacrocorax atriceps) is found in large 
numbers round the island. It is a most business-like bird, and 
goes steadily about its daily work, taking very little notice of 
outside interruptions. It is more prettily marked than the 
northern shag, having a black back and white belly. The back 
of the head is black, and carries a tuft of black feathers. The 
white of the belly is continued up over the under part of the neck 
and head. The eye is blue coloured. It lays two or three greenish- 
white eggs, and the young are covered with a dark-coloured down. 
Their food is fish, which they obtain by diving, and of which they 
consume an enormous number daily. 

Paddies, or Sheathbills {Chionis alba)^ are not common on 
this island, though a few were seen about the coast by the 

South Georgian Teal {Nettion georgicum) are said to be getting 
very rare. A few were noticed and some specimens collected. 

Falkland Island Geese — introduced by man — are also rare, and 
none were seen by the naturalist.^ The whalers say that a few 
are still to be found about Cumberland Bay. 

There are three species of penguin : Gentoo (Pygoscelis papua), 
King {Aptenodytes patagonica), and Rockhopper {Eudyptes Chryso- 
lophus). The Gentoo is a brightly marked bird with black head and 
neck, black back and white belly, yellow legs, and a white patch 
over each eye that gives it a curiously inane expression. It is the 
most shy of the penguins, and easily takes fright if rapidly 
approached. By dropping on its breast and using both feet and 
flippers it can travel at considerable speed and can dodge cleverly. 
It nests in tussock grass. The King is larger than the Gentoo, 
and has very bright markings about the neck and upper part of 

* Mr. Clark, of the Endurance, saw a few in West Bay, Cumberland Bay, 
in November, 1914. 

Appendix 333 

the breast. It nests in tussock grass, but keeps nearer to the 
sea edge then the Gentoo. The Rockhopper is less common than 
either of the others. It is smaller than the Gentoo and resembles 
it somewhat in appearance except that the feet are of a more 
browny yellow, the patch over the eye is lacking, and it has a 
tuft of yellow and black feathers. Occasional Ringed and Adelie 
penguins were noticed, but they are stragglers and not commonly 
seen on the island. 

Sea-elephants are common on all the beaches of South Georgia 
during the summer months, and are found also throughout the 
winter. They lie on the beaches or in wallows amongst the clumps 
of tussock grass. The smell from them is unpleasant and unmis- 
takable. The bulls, except in the rutting season, usually remain 
apart from the cows, which collect, together with their young, 
into harems numbering from fifteen to fifty. The flippers, 
though short, are wonderfully flexible, and have curious little 
rudimentary fingers with which they scratch themselves in 
what is, at times, a ludicrously human way. They are fond 
of heaping sand upon themselves. When approached they make 
a curious windy roaring noise, and they may often be heard 
trumpeting from their wallows. Wilkins, in crossing the island, 
saw a sea-elephant track which led the whole way over. It was 
in soft snow and was unmistakable. Many other tracks went for 
a mile or so inland, but turned and came back to the beach from 
which they started, and only one was found to cross all the way. 
Weddell Seals come ashore in numbers, and also occasional 

The managers of the whaling stations reported that whales 
were plentiful during the height of the season (1921-22), though, 
as was to be expected, the numbers fell off with the onset of 
winter. The most numerous were humpback and blue whales, 
and a few sperm and sei-whales were caught. The return of the 
humpback is interesting, for in the early days of the whaling 
industry in 1904 and for several years afterwards this species 
formed the bulk of the catch (over 90 per cent). The numbers 
fell off rapidly, till in 19 12- 13 they formed 38 per cent. ; in 
1915-16, 12 per cent. ; and in 1917-18, only 2.5 per cent. It was 
generally considered and admitted by many of the whalers that 
the decline was due to ruthless hunting, but the explanation seems 
to lie in the distribution and drift of food supply. For a 
fuller description of South Atlantic whales and whaHng, readers 
are referred to Appendix I of "South," by Robert S. Clark, 
M.A., B.Sc. 

During our second visit to South Georgia Mr. Hansen, the 
manager of Leith Harbour Whaling Station, showed us a porpoise 
which had leapt ashore. It was coloured bluey black and dirty 
white; total length, 531^ inches; tip of nose to blowhole, 6 inches; 

334 Appendix 

tip of nose to dorsal fin, 17^ inches; tip of nose to flippers, 
9 inches. It has been provisionally determined as Phocaena 

Small shore-life in South Georgia comprises flies, found along 
the beaches and breeding in the semi-rotting seaweed cast up by 
the tide; several forms of spiders, beetles [Hydromedion)^ mites 
{Bdella)^ tiny jumping flies, and an earth worm (Acanthrodilus). 

Vegetation ashore is very scarce, the only grass which grows 
in evident quantity being the tussock grass [Poa flabellata). The 
naturalist was able to collect specimens of plants referable to six- 
teen species, but many of them were marine algae. 

Seventeen reindeer which were brought to the island in the 
years 191 1 and 1912 have increased and multiplied to such an 
extent that there were about 250 when we were there, and this 
notwithstanding the fact that the whalers have periodically killed 
numbers for food. Wilkins examined the stomachs of some that 
were killed, and found them normal in size, not distended, as 
usually happens when the food is of poor quality. 

The Quest left South Georgia on January i8th, 1922. A few 
miles out from the coast we passed thousands of whale birds {Prion) 
feeding on the surface of the water, probably upon crustaceae, 
which were so plentiful that the sea was highly coloured. Cape 
pigeons, Wilson petrels, sooty albatross and a number of molly- 
mauks came about the ship, but wandering albatross were con- 
spicuously absent at this stage. On the second day we met snow 
petrels {Pagodroma nivea)^ which remained intermittently with us 
till our return to South Georgia. 

On January 20th we visited Zavodovski Island. The slopes 
were covered with Ringed penguins, and the beaches under the 
glaciers were occupied by a number of King penguins. Fumes 
were issuing from caves on the eastern side of the island, and it 
was noticed that the penguins kept clear of them. Many Giant 
petrels flew round the ship, and a number were seen resting ashore. 
Cape pigeons, Wilson petrels and a blue petrel were noticed in the 
vicinity of the island. As we turned farther south prions became 
more scarce, but Wilson petrels and Cape pigeons kept up in 
numbers. The light-mantled sooty albatross seen in these areas 
was conspicuously light-phased, and became markedly so in the 
more southern latitudes. Silver-grey petrels {Priocella glacialoides) 
were first seen in lat. 57° S. and 15° E. long. They were observed 
throughout the voyage till we returned to South Georgia, where 
the naturalist obtained some specimens. 

In lat. 58° S. we met the Antarctic petrel (Thalassoeca ant- 
arctica). They occurred in groups of ten or fifteen, but never in 
large numbers, as seen in the Ross Sea. In this latitude also an 
occasional Sooty petrel (Oestrelata macroptera) was seen, and a 
species of whale bird, classed temporarily by the naturalist as 

Appendix 335 

Prion desolatus. We saw a Cape hen in lat. 61° S., and a Giant 
petrel after we had crossed the circle; the latter is very rare in 
the Antarctic proper. One of the latter seen in 67*^ S. had a very 
white phase. 

In lat. 68° S. Arctic terns were noticed. Some of them were 
already (on February 8th) beginningf to change their plumage, the 
dark cap in many cases being streaked with grey. Emperor 
Penguins (Aptenodytes Forsteri) were seen in numbers south of 
lat. 67° S., but, taken on the whole, were not common through- 
out the trip. They are the "farthest south" penguins. Numbers 
of cheery Httle Adelies were seen in greatest numbers near "Ross's 
Appearance of Land." Crab-eater Seals {Lobodon carcinophagus) 
were seen in large numbers about the pack edge, especially in 
those parts where the ice showed marked diatomaceous bands. 
Often as many as a dozen of these seals were seen on a single 
small floe heaving up and down on the swell. Killer whales 
were present in numbers at the time we were in the pack, 
and were frequently seen in the open leads. The Crab-eaters, 
on the other hand, seemed to avoid the larger leads of open 
water. On February 13th we had occasion to kill a number of 
Crab-eaters, when each female was found to be pregnant, the 
foetus varying in length from one to three inches. Sea-leopards 
were seen, but were rare. 

We visited Elephant Island on March 28th, and effected land- 
ings at Cape Lookout and on a narrow beach at the western end 
of the northern coast. Animal life is scarce, and plants are con- 
fined to a lichen, which grows on some of the rocks on the sides 
facing north, and a species of moss. The bird life consists of Gentoo, 
Ringed and Rockhopper penguins, the latter being very scarce ; 
seabirds, including Cape pigeons. Skua gulls, Dominican gulls, 
Blue-eyed shags (all of them plentiful), and Molly mauks and Giant 
petrels (more rare). The Paddy, or Sheathbill {Chionis alha)^ is 

The Ringed penguins made their rookeries on steep rock-faces 
clo'se to the sea, and spent many patient hours in climbing up and 
down from their positions, hopping carefully from ledge to ledge. 
The Gentoos selected easier slopes. Rarely a Gentoo was found in 
a Ringed rookery, but Ringed were found fairly frequently among 
the Gentoos. The Paddies haunted the rookeries, their food being 
obtained largely from the excreta of penguins, from which they 
pick small round worms or nematodes, with which the penguins 
are infested. The stomach and intestines of the Paddies themselves 
are wonderfully free from parasites. They eat readily of any offal 
which may be lying about. Those which remained during the 
winter were very thin, due to the departure of the majority of 
penguins. Numerous seals and sea-elephants were lying on the 
beaches. On the rocks are dark-shelled limpets (Patella polaris), 

336 Appendix 

which never come above low-water mark; no doubt they would 
freeze to death in the colder air. 

We returned to South Georgia on April 6th, and left for 
Tristan da Cunha on May 9th. During the voyage we saw 
Wandering Albatross, two Sooty Albatross (P. palpehrata and P. 
fusca)y mollymauks, Silver-Grey petrels (Priocella glacialoides)^ 
Wilson petrels, Giant petrels, Diving petrels, several varieties of 
prions. Cape hens, Cape pigeons, Terns, Skua gulls and Shear- 
waters. As we neared Tristan da Cunha we lost Phoehetria palpe- 
hrata, and the only kind of Sooty Albatross seen was P. fusca. 
The islands of the Tristan da Cunha group are so close together 
that the animal life is similar to them all. The naturalist found 
eggs of the following : The yellow billed moUymauk {ThalassO' 
geron chlororynchus), greater Shearwater (Puffinus gravis), Rock- 
hopper Penguin {Eudyptes chrysocome) and Catharacta antarctica. 
The evidence of the islanders regarding the bird life of the islands 
is as follows (birds are recognized by general description and 
plates) : Wandering Albatross used to breed on Tristan, but now 
only found rarely on Inaccessible Island. Sooty Albatross (P. 
fusca) nests in August. Young birds leave the nest in April (the 
young of P. palpehrata were hatched on January 15th at South 

Yellow-nosed mollymauks (T. chlororynchus) nest in August. 
Young birds leave the nest in April (the young of T. chrysostoma 
were hatched on January ist in South Georgia). 

Oestrelata macroptera moults in May, lays in July. 

Oestrelata mollis lays in November. 

Pachyptila vittata Keyteli lays in September. 

Priofinus cinereus lays in May and June. 

Sterna vittata lays in November. 

Stercorarius antarcticus lays in August. 

Anous stolidus arrives in September, lays in November, but 
goes away for the winter. 

Eudyptes chrysocome moults and leaves the island in March, 
comes again in August, and lays in September. 

A thrush {Nesocichla eremita) and a finch {N esospiza acunhae) 
are found on Inaccessible Island, but seem to have left Tristan. 

Wilson petrels, Cape hens, Cape pigeons and gulls are not 
often seen and do not nest on the island. A diving petrel is 
frequently seen, but no eggs have been found. With regard to 
sea-life, fish abound in plenty in the kelp about the island. The 
naturalist had little opportunity for a collection of specimens. 
The following is the list given by Mrs. K. M. Barrow, who spent 
three years on the island : * 

Blue-fish, Snoek (Thyrsites atun), Mackerel (Scomber colias), 
Five finger (Chilodactylus fasciatus Lac), Soldier-fish, Craw-fish 
* " Three Years on Tristan da Cunha," by K. M. Barrow. 

Appendix 337 

and Klip-fish. The southern blue whale is occasionally seen, as 
are also seals and sea-elephants. Sharks are common, and several 
were caught from the ship whilst lying off Nightingale and 
Inaccessible Islands. 

We arrived at Gough Island on May 27th. At first sight it 
appears as a green island clothed in verdure. As we approached 
the western side we saw a number of birds, prions, wandering 
albatross, moUymauks, a diving petrel, skua gulls and terns. 
Both Phoehetria cornicoides and P. fusca were seen. After round- 
ing south-west and south points few birds were seen except skua 
gulls and terns, and they were not common. No albatross were 
seen on the eastern side during the whole of our visit. Just after 
passing south-east point Wilkins saw what he thought was a 
noddy tern {Anous stolidus), which was previously reported as 
visiting the island. Immediately on landing on the Glen beach 
buntings {Nesospiza goughensis) came tamely about, but did not 
let themselves be caught by hand. Numbers were seen feeding on 
flies, which swarmed in the decaying seaweed, and also inland, 
where they were seen on the stems of tussock grass or clinging to 
the branches of the tea plant [Chenopodium tomentosum). They 
were found everywhere up to the level of the thicker vegetation, 
which ends at about 2,000 feet. There are two types : one, black- 
throated and mouse-coloured ; the other, light and dark brown, 
with yellowish markings. They were feeding together, and seen 
to be in about equal numbers and of equal size. 

On every part of the island visited the sharp "Chuck ! chuck ! " 
of water hens could be heard, and several were shot for specimens. 
They were shy, and at sight of man hastened in amongst the 
tussock grass, where it was impossible to see them. The frontal 
shield is bright red ; bill and feet, bright yellow ; plumage, black 
and cinnamon. All parts of the Glen which gave a sufficient depth 
of earth and which were not overgrown with trees were honey- 
combed with the burrows of different kinds of petrels. They did 
not come out by daylight, but their croaking frequently betrayed 
them, and in this way several specimens were added to the collec- 
tion, These included Priofinus cinereus and broad-billed prions 
{Pachyptila vittata Keyteli). At night a large fire was lighted on 
the beach, and several specimens were shot as they flew inwards 
through the light. Some of them fell into the tussock grass, and 
in the dark could not be found. In the morning, when taken up, 
they were seen to have been almost entirely picked to pieces and 
eaten by mice, which swarmed in large numbers at the foot of 
the Glen. These mice are the ordinary Mus musculus, and were 
no doubt introduced by earlier landing parties. On several parts 
of the island were large penguin rookeries, deserted at this time 
of year except for a few straggling Rockhoppers {Eudyptes chryso- 
come). The thrush, common on Nightingale and Inaccessible 


338 Appendix 

Islands, was not seen at all on Gough Island. No albatross or 
moUymauk nests were seen, but there might have been some on 
the north-west side, which is the most exposed to the winds, and 
thus most likely to be selected by these birds. 

The collection of birds from Gough Island numbered over fifty 
specimens, referable to nine species : 

Garrodia Nereis Chuhhi (Matthews), which was shot as it flew 
over the light of the camp fire. 

Priofinus cinereus, found in burrows on the hill. 

Oestrelata mollis (Gould), found in burrows near the beach. 
Their croakings could be heard all night. 

Pachyptila vittata Keyteli (Matthews), found as above. From 
the noise they were making there must have been many in the 
neighbourhood of the camp. 

Stercorarius antarcticus (Lesson). Skuas were not common, 
and only about twenty were seen during the visit. 

Sterna vittata (Reich). Many terns were seen, both in adult 
and juvenile plumage. 

Nesospiza Goughensis (Eagle Clarke). Birds of this type were 
brought back by the Scotia and described by Eagle Clarke, Orn. 
Report Scottish Nat. Antarctic Expedition. They have been classed 
as two species, but from examination of the twenty-eight specimens 
in the Quest collection it is thought that these birds are of one 
species, and the difference in plumage can be accounted for by age. 
(N.B. See paper by Mr. P. R. Lowe, M.B.O.U.) 

Gallinula or Porphyriornis Comeri (Allen). This water-hen is 
common on Gough Island, but is not seen on Tristan da Cunha. 
Some of the islanders say they have seen it on the western side 
of Inaccessible Island. 

Eudyptes chrysocome. Only two or three were seen. 

Gough Island gives an impression from the sea of almost 
tropical greenness, and on landing at the Glen one has much the 
same impression, for the slopes and hillsides are thickly covered 
with vegetation. Trees, tree ferns and tussock grass are most 
abundant, whilst the rocks and cliff faces are covered with mosses 
and lichens. The trees are the Island Tree (Phylica nitida). An 
interesting discovery was made by the geologist of a grove of 
trees of a different sort. They were in the "little glen" on the 
southern side of Archway Rock, and he describes them as "grow- 
ing as if planted in an orchard," reaching a height of four to 
five metres and spreading to four metres or more. It has since 
been identified as a variety of Sophora tetraptera J. Mull, var. nov. 
Goughensis. About the beach there is a luxuriant growth of dock 
{Riimex fructescens and Rtitnex Ohtusifolius). There was also a 
wild celery, which was found by comparison to differ considerably 
from the type species from Tristan da Cunha (Thouars Fl. Trist. p. 
43 Apium Australe). This plant was also collected by the Scotia, 

Appendix 339 

and after an examination of the specimens, as well as those from 
the Quest, it has been decided to name it as a new species, Apium 
Goughensis. In the sheltered parts of the cliffs were several 
varieties of maidenhair fern (Adiantum aethiopicum) ; mosses and 
lichens were everywhere. On the flat ground bordering the beach 
grew a thick covering of grasses, mostly dwarfed Scirpus sp., 
with here and there some bunches of Agrostis ramulosa. Thistles 
and Gnaphalium grew rankly near the edge of the penguin 
rookeries. The wild tea plant (Chenopodium tomentosum) 
flourished luxuriantly. The small Hydrocotyle (most probably 
leucophalica), though dwarfed by its environment, was noticed by 
its distinctive leaf. The thicker vegetation grew to a level of about 
2,000 feet, when most of it ceased. At this level the cranberry in 
its southern temperate form {Empetrum nigrum var. ruhrum) 
grows abundantly. At this season of the year (June ist) it was 
loaded with bright red fruit. Lycopodium was found by the 
naturalist at the highest level attained by him, but in a dwarfed 
condition. Agrostis ramulosa and A. media seemed to thrive at 
higher levels. Cotula Goughensis, a new species described by 
Dr. Rudmose Brown of the Scotia, which grows to a height of 
30 cm. near the beach, is dwarfed to 5 or 6 cm. on the higher 
slopes. Only closely related forms were noticed at the higher 
levels, but a longer period ashore and a more careful and 
prolonged search at these levels might produce something new. 
In all thirty specimens referable to nineteen species were col- 
lected. Of these, three were not in the collection made by the 
naturalists of the Scotia, but they collected several species not 
collected by us. Two of the new specimens are of plants common 
to the Tristan da Cunha group. Sophora tetraptera had not been 
previously collected, though Mr. Comer, who' was amongst one 
of the earliest parties to visit the island, described two different 
types of trees. The members of the Scotia, whose visit, owing to 
bad weather, was very hurried, not finding the second tree, decided 
that the tree fern (Lomaria horyana) was meant. 

We left Gough Island for Cape Town on June ist. We saw 
several kinds of petrels. Wandering albatross. Cape pigeons, 
many shearwaters (Puffinus gravis and Priofinus cinereus)^ and two 
species of mollymauk, black-browed and yellow-nosed, in juvenile 
plumage with a showing of grey under the throat, were observed. 
Several attempts were made to catch a specimen with a grey 
marking on the throat, but without success. It appeared to 
resemble the mollymauk described by Dr. Harvey Pirie and Mr. 
Eagle Clarke, but identification was impossible whilst it was on 
the wing. Several dark-brown petrels, probably Oestrelata mac- 
roptera, were seen. A number of Sooty albatross which came 
about the ship had white spots on the head and shoulder. Attempts 
were made to hook one with a fishing line, but failed. As we 

340 Appendix 

approached South Africa albatross of a darker phase and a number 
of mollymauks with dark-grey heads and throats were seen, prob- 
ably the young of Thalassogeron chlororynchus. Nearer land 
many gannets were noticed diving into the sea. 

This report* cannot be regarded as an exhaustive account of 
the natural history work of the expedition, being merely a r6sum6 
of the naturalist's provisional report. Much work still requires to 
be done before the full value of the collections can be esti- 
mated. The collection, especially of birds, is a large one, and has 
added considerably to the material already available in the 
museums. Several new species and varieties have been provision- 
ally determined. Throughout the whole period of the expedition 
conditions were never favourable for natural history work, and 
change of plan compelled that many of the parts should be visited 
in mid-winter instead of in summer, with consequent disadvantages 
as regards weather and landing facilities. The amount of mate- 
rial brought home reflects great credit on Captain Wilkins as a 
collector and on his assistants. 

KoTE. — At the time of going to press I learn that one of the buntings 
taken from Inaccessible and Nightingale Islands has been determined as a 
new species, and that the larger Gough Island finch is a new genus. The 
latter is being named Rowettia, after Mr. Rowett. 



J. A. McIlroy, M.R.C.S., L.R.C.P., and L. D. A. Hussev, B.Sc. 

Meteorological observations made at one single station are of 
little value by themselves. Their full value lies in the possibility 
of their being correlated with observations made contempora- 
neously at other stations in neighbouring parts of the world. 
Particularly is this so where the station is a moving one, as in the 
case of the Quest. Consequently no attempt can be made here to 
draw any general conclusions from the observations which were 
made on the voyage. 

The complete meteorological logs have been handed over to 
the Marine Meteorological Section of the Air Ministry, as, with 
all the material that they can collect from ships all over the world, 
that body is in a position to make the best use of our results. 

At the outset of the expedition the Air Ministry very kindly 
gave us every assistance, and lent us a great deal of apparatus 
and many instruments on the understanding that they would be 
allowed to use the information that we gathered. This arrange- 

* A complete and interesting report has been received at the last moment 
from Capt. Wilkins, too late to go to press. It is hoped that this will be 
published separately at an early date. — Author. 

fhoto : IVilkins 



Fhoto: Wilkins 

Photo: Dr. Macklin 

Appendix 341 

ment has been carried out, and we hope that among the many 
scientific results of the expedition we have been able to add one 
link to the chain of observations which is being made daily all 
round the world, and so we may have justified our existence. 
The instruments used consisted of the following : 

(a) Two standard ships' screens, in each of which were a 
wet and dry bulb thermometer. These were placed one on each 
side of the bridge, well exposed and as far as possible away from 
any draughts and convection currents from galley and engine- 
room. The readings were taken from the screen on the weather side. 

(b) A marine-pattern mercury barometer, hung in the gyro- 
scope-compass room, which was also used to check the ship's 
aneroid which was placed in the wheel-house. 

(c) A barograph, which was, however, of little use owing to 
the bad weather that we experienced and the continual rolling 
and pitching of the ship. 

(d) Several sea thermometers and hydrometers for surface work. 

(e) Various equipment, such as kites, balloons and meteoro- 
graphs, which were taken for experimental purposes. 

Complete observations were taken every four hours of air 
and sea temperatures, humidity, pressure, wind, direction and 
form of clouds, etc., in the usual ship's meteorological log. 

Except when the ship was in port, where permanent stations 
existed, these observations were carried out continuously during 
the whole of the voyage, making roughly about two thousand 
odd sets of observations in all. 

Although no general conclusion can yet be drawn from these 
observations, a general summary of the weather conditions 
experienced by the Quest may be of interest. 

As far as actual wind force is concerned, the first part of the 
journey, to Lisbon, was uneventful, except for a short but heavy 
gale when off the Bay of Biscay. This gale lasted at its height 
for about eight hours, after which it gradually eased off. It was 
accompanied by a sudden very marked fall in the barometer, 
but no corresponding change in the wind, which was blowing from 
the south all the time. 

The day after leaving Lisbon, when well out to sea, a large 
waterspout was observed only about a mile away westward. 

From now onwards, until after leaving St. Vincent, the wind 
was steady but weak, never once approaching gale force. The 
north-east Trades, even, almost failed us, and were of very little 
assistance indeed. 

This state of affairs continued till we reached Rio de Janeiro, 
and it was after leaving this port on December i8th, 1921, that 
our troubles from the weather commenced. 

Two days before Christmas, 192 1, a very calm sea and still, 
damp air, with the horizon obscured, gave us fears for the future. 

342 Appendix 

That these were only too well founded was proved next day, 
when, with a steadily falling barometer and an equally steadily 
rising sea, the wind increased from the south. The sky became 
overcast and intense squalls followed each other in rapid succession. 
Conditions became worse during the next three days, and on the fol- 
lowing two days, December 29th and 30th, the wind blew with hur- 
ricane force. Huge seas threatened to swamp the ship, the helm 
was lashed, and everyone except Sir Ernest and Captain Wild were 
sent below. Sir Ernest said that never in all his life had he seen 
such mountainous seas. Oil-bags were hung out, and we ran before 
the storm. On the fifth day conditions seemed to improve, but it 
was only a temporary lull, and a storm of equal violence succeeded 
this, lasting for two days. This gale lasted in all over seven 
days, and during most of this time it was rarely possible to cook 
a proper meal or, indeed, keep one's balance on deck at all; and 
the mere taking of the observations under these circumstances 
entailed a pretty thorough soaking. Fortunately a barographic 
curve was obtained during the whole of this storm, and it shows 
in a striking way the sudden rapid fall in atmospheric pressure 
which occurred during this time. 

There was not a dry spot left on the ship, and the hydrograph 
and maximum and minimum thermometers were encrusted with 
salt from the seas, which even washed over the upper bridge 
where these instruments were placed. 

January, 1922, gave promise of fair weather, and as far as wind 
was concerned that promise was fulfilled. The voyage from South 
Georgia down to the pack was marked by one or two gales of 
moderate severity, with the sky almost continuously overcast. 
Close, heavy pack seemed nearly always associated with fine, clear 
weather and southerly winds, while the reverse obtained as the 
wind veered to the opposite direction. When actually frozen in 
and drifting with the pack the weather was generally fine. 

The lowest temperature experienced was 6°F. on March 15th 
in latitude 63° 45' S. and longitude 45° 12' W., and again on 
March i6th and 17th in about the same position. At these tem- 
peratures — 26° below freezing — the water round the wet-bulb was 
frozen, and so dry-bulb readings alone were obtainable. 

From this time onwards gales generally from the south were 
of much more frequent occurrence than fine weather or even 
moderate winds, and Elephant Island lived up to its evil reputa- 
tion by being the centre of such bad weather as to make landing 
extremely dangerous. 

From South Georgia to Tristan da Cunha — May 8th to 
May 19th — the journey was marked by such bad weather that 
winds of under gale force occurred on less than half a dozen 
occasions only. This can to some extent be accounted for by the 
lateness of the season and the approach of mid-winter. 

Appendix 343 

With the exception of one sharp gale, the weather experienced 
round Gough Island was a considerable improvement on that 
which had been our almost daily lot for the previous two months. 

Our stay at Tristan was not long enough for us to collect 
information as to general weather conditions on the island, but 
the padre who is now there, and who is erecting a meteorological 
station, will doubtless supply a useful series of observations. 

From Gough Island to Cape Town — June 2nd to June i8th, 
1922 — similar weather was experienced, only about four days not 
showing gales. Slight, but very slight, improvement in weather 
conditions occurred on the way up to Ascension from the Cape, 
but from thence onwards much finer weather was cur lot till we 
were two days off England, when another gale welcomed us home. 

As we made clear at first, this memorandum is not intended to 
be a compleiie and detailed dissection and analysis of the two thou- 
sand odd series of observations that were made during the voyage, 
but only to indicate how bad weather handicapped all our efforts 
in the southern hemisphere. 

If, when these results come, in the course of time, to be 
considered in conjunction with others made in those parts, we 
shall have added our little bit to the present very meagre know- 
ledge of weather conditions there, we shall feel satisfied. For 
every addition to our knowledge of regional meteorology con- 
tributes to our knowledge of meteorology in general, and so helps 
us to understand the many perplexing problems which meteorolo- 
gists all the world over are up against. 

In conclusion, a word of thanks is due to Captain Brooke- 
Smith and Commander Hennessey of the Meteorological Section 
of the Air Ministry, for much valuable advice and assistance, both 
before we sailed and after our return home. 



The following is a brief account of the hydrographic work carried 
out hy Commander Worsley, R.N.R., assisted by Lieut- 
Commander Jeffery, R.N.R., J. Dell, P.O., R.N., and 
Captain G. V. Douglas. 

The hydrographic equipment consisted, besides sextants, theodo- 
lites, chronometers and compasses, of three sounding machines 
— a Kelvin and two Lucas machines — a gyroscope compass, two 
rangefinders, and a wireless set. 

344 Appendix 

The Kelvin sounding machine has a 7-stranded steel wire 
.35 of an inch in circumference and 300 fathoms long. It is 
intended for soundings to a depth of 100 fathoms, for which 
purpose thin glass tubes of chemicals are provided which record 
the pressure to that depth, but we frequently took soundings to 
280 fathoms by stopping the ship and getting a perpendicular 

The Lucas machine, which, in addition to having been lent to 
Sir Ernest Shackleton on his different expeditions and supplied 
to the French, German and Australian Antarctic Expeditions of 
1908-10 and 191 1 and also the Canadian Arctic Expedition of 
1913, has done the major part of the work of exploring the 
profound depths of the world's oceans, and is, I believe, easily 
the best machine to-day for the work. 

Ours had 6,000 fathoms Brunton wire, having a diameter of 
028 inches and weighing 123 lbs. per 1,000 fathoms, with a 
breaking strain of 200 lbs. We also had a 500-fathom Lucas, 
suitable for boat work, and with which I have always hoped at 
some time to sound, through a crevasse, for the thickness of the 
Great Antarctic ice sheet. Tlie 6,000-fathom machine could also 
be used for kites, small balloons and other aerial work. 

The Sperry gyroscope compass worked well as far South as 
we went— 69O 13/ — but the liveliness of the vessel made the initial 
adjustments difficult, and the constant ramming and blows from 
the ice threw it out again. The new type of mercury ballistic 
with which it was fitted minimized much of the bad effects of the 
bumping. Add to this the small size of the vessel not enabling 
us to carry more fuel for the actuating dynamo, and the lateness 
of the season prevented us stopping often for the necessary time 
to steady it up. 

We can, however, say from our experience of it that in a 
slightly steadier vessel, with more time and dynamo fuel, that 
even in latitudes beyond 70° it would be most useful for quickly 
ascertaining the variation of the magnetic needles and, in con- 
junction with the rangefinder, for quickly making a chart of a 
coast or islands which the vessel might be passing. Much of 
our survey of Gough Island was so made. Our average time 
taken to get the gyro running correctly from the start was about 
six hours. 

The 65 cm. Barr and Stroud rangefinder was useful in giving 
the distances to lay off the bearings of the various points in 
survey work and, with vertical angles, obtaining the heights of 
peaks, islands and icebergs. 

The larger 4 feet 6 inches rangefinder was virtually useless, 
as we could only use it in a completely land-locked harbour. 

The naval wireless set, rotary spark transmission and con- 
tinuous wave, lent us by the Admiralty, was particularly useful 

Appendix 345 

in giving us G.M.T., and so correct longitude. Our reception 
was very good; we received, when 68"^ 49' S., time signals from 
Rio Janeiro at a distance of 3,206 miles. We heard messages 
from 'Frisco at a distance of about 8,000 miles while in 65*^ S. 
lat., and later in lat. 50° S. received time signals from Nauen, 
Germany, 9,000 miles distant. The latitude appeared to be a 
governing factor, as S. of 50° S. lat. we experienced very bad 
atmospherics, while S. of 55° there appeared to be an almost 
constant roar in the receivers, making it impossible to read 
signals, although they could be often heard. There may have 
been more silent intervals than appeared, as we only had one 
operator, and being busy on ship's work he only listened for 
half an hour at the appointed time for the signals. 

The greatest distance that we transmitted signals was about 
400 miles in Cape Colony ; normally we could get 200 miles. The 
earth was rather a problem; being a wooden ship, we fastened 
large copper sheets to the ship under water, but they were 
repeatedly torn loose when forcing our way through the ice. 

The wireless telephone lent by Marconi's worked very well. 
We spoke for a distance of 100 miles with it approaching Rio, 
and it was made evident that on any expedition it would be very 
useful, its only drawback being the loud roar made by the engine, 
which could be. silenced considerably. 

A new large-scale chart was made of St. Paul Rocks and 
surrounding submarine plateau contained within the hundred- 
fathom line on a scale of 200 feet to the inch, the Admiralty 
Chart 388 being on a scale of 2,029 f^^* ^^ the inch. 

From their small size (the largest being 380 feet by 180 feet) 
and the probability that erosion is taking place, it is doubtful 
if they can ever be used for an aerial station or any other purpose 
except a lighthouse or wireless meteorological and directional 

At South Georgia we carried out series of over two hundred 
soundings W., S.W. , N. and E. of South Georgia, discovering 
several banks, one with apparently a fairly clear bottom for 
trawling in from 50 to 100 fathoms from 10 to 30 miles offshore 
to the N.W., but this area requires more examination than we 
had time to give it. All the other banks had very irregular 

We found no indication of a bank at a greater distance to 
the N.E., as has been reported, but the 200-fathom line is much 
father off to the S.W. than was expected. 

From whalers' reports and our soundings it would appear 
that there is a more or less continuous bank to the N. and N.E. 
of and parallel to the island, with deeper water forming a sub- 
marine valley between. With a limited examination, we found 
the bottom to consist mainly of a dark grey sand, gravel and 



stones. The whalers report that these banks swarm with an 
incredible number of very good eating fish, so easily caught that 
they can be "jigged " up with no bait, but a bit of bright metal 
on the hook. 

There is a large Roman Catholic population eight days' steam 
away in South America, and it is possible that a profitable trawling 
and fish-curing industry could be started here. 

U.»C CH'flW 1 






" L 

"^ m 



I(y C«f FA V«brOr».1UUtn< V' Om^ OO-JtOrrrXHM 

•QUCST'bv*. 1921 

ScaU of Yard* 

A sketch chart of Prinz Olaf Harbour in Possession Bay, 
where Lever Brothers have a whaling station, was made. This 
is the best harbour at the west end of South Georgia. 

Some additions to the plan of Stromness Bay, Admiralty 
Chart No. 3,579, were made. 

Soundings from Cumberland Bay to Cooper Island were taken. 
The bottom here is rocky and irregular, with several reefs and 
dangers, all, however, fortunately marked by kelp — the great 
safeguard and aid to the navigation around South Georgia, except 

Appendix 347 

on the south, south-west and west coasts, where icebergs tear much 
of the kelp off. The kelp is useless, however, if steering towards 
bright sunlight, as the glare on the water makes it impossible 
to see it soon enough. The ss. Fridtjof Nansen was so wrecked 
on a reef 7 miles offshore near Cape George in 1907; but the 
whalers steam full speed straight for the coast in thick fogs, 
and being very handy turn in almost their length immediately 
they see the kelp, which frequently reaches to the surface in 
60 fathoms and even deeper water. 

A sketch chart of the passage inside Cooper Island and of 
Cooper Bay anchorage for small vessels was made. 

A rough chart of Larsen Harbour, the best harbour at the 
S.E. end of South Georgia, was made. There is enough fiat 
ground here to make a small whaling station, and sufficient water 
could be got from the glacier streams. 

We took new soundings in Royal Bay and across the front 
of the Great Glacier, steaming along a quarter of a mile inside 
the line of the glacier front of 1902 (Nordenskjold), but along the 
Hne laid down by the German survey of 1882, showing an advance 
and then a retreat of the glacier front. 

Lastly, we sounded from Cooper Island out to and east of 
Gierke Rocks, and obtained a bearing and sketch of Gierke Rocks 
from the hills at the back of Cooper Island. 

A running survey with soundings was made round Zavodovski, 
the northernmost island of the Sandwich group, an inhospitable 
island, difficult or dangerous to land on, and still more so to gain 
a way up the cliffs of rocks and ice to the upland. 

The peak, unfortunately, was hidden by clouds, and rio signs 
of activity of the volcano were seen. No outlying dangers were 
visible — in several places we got 20 fathoms 100 yards from the 
shore. On the north side were numerous grounded bergs, 
indicating shoal water. These bergs were about 40 to 50 feet 
high. On the basis of i fathom below water to i foot above 
they would give a depth of 40 to 50 fathoms. On the eastern 
side we saw faint blue hazy smoke issuing in several places from 
clefts and caves in the cliffs, and when we got to leeward could 
distinctly perceive an unpleasant sulphurous smell. In this con- 
nexion Captain C. A. Larsen, in November, 1908, reported : 
*' . . . An active volcano; air poisonous with fumes of burning 
sulphur; landing impossible owing to steep-to coasts. . . ." 
(Larsen, as a matter of fact, was ill for some days as a result of 
breathing such fumes in one of the group.) 

Two gently sloping uplands on the S. and E. afford a breeding 
ground for myriads of penguins, who appear to keep scrupulously 
clear of the fumes on the eastern side. 

At Elephant Island we made a rough survey of Cape Lookout 
anchorage where we anchored, and took several soundings S. 

348 Appendix 

and W. of Elephant Island. We anchored at Cape Lindsay 
(N.W. of island) and Seal Rocks, taking bearings and soundings. 
None of these anchorages can be described as harbours, and with 
an onshore breeze they must be left at once. We steamed through 
the intricate nest of rocks and reefs that stretch for over 20 miles 
to the west and north-west of Cape Lindsay. This was very 
ticklish navigation, requiring a very close, unremitting watch 
from the crow's-nest, there being no warning kelp, the only guides 
being a brown discoloration under the water and an occasional 
swirl of the sea. 

The existence of Pagoda Rock was practically disproved by a 
sounding of 2,902 fathoms 2 miles east of its reported position. 
It can with safety be expunged from the chart. 

Forty miles north-east of the position assigned to Ross's 
appearance of land we obtained a sounding of 2,446 fathoms 
blue mud, and could see no land from the masthead with clear 
weather. It seems improbable, therefore, that it exists, unless 
it is south or west of the position given, as Ross appears to 
have been working on dead reckoning, nor could it have been 
far in those directions or we should have found indications of it 
during our drift in Shackleton's Expedition 1914-16. 

At Gough Island we determined the position of Penguin Island 
(on the east coast) to be 40° 18' 10" S. and 9° 54' o'' W., which 
is 2' 22" S. and 4' 6" E. of the latest Admiralty Chart, but only 
50" N. and 2' o" E. of the Admiralty's previous position. These 
positions were taken by a mean of a number of solar and stellar 
observations on different days by sextant from the ship and 
bearings and rangefinder distance to Penguin Island, being only 
able to use the northern and eastern horizons. 

Our chronometers were kept correct by W.T. time signals. 
(It would be interesting to know if this is the first time that the 
position of an outlying island like this has been verified by W.T. 
time signals.) 

The position of Glen Anchorage was also accurately observed, 
agreeing with the position by Captain Robertson ss. Scotia of 
Bruce's Scottish Expedition. 

We determined the position of the anchorage in Lot's Wife's 
Cove, north end of island, by three observations for latitude and 
one for longitude, surveyed and sounded two new anchorages, 
and sounded the southern, eastern and part of the northern 

A new chart of Gough Island, with large and important 
corrections, on a scale of 1/3643 1 was made. 

The highest point of the island was ascertained with an 
aneroid by Captain Douglas to be 2,915 feet in the centre of the 
island, not 4,380 feet at the northern part, as previously charted. 
Very good fish were caught in great abundance in the whole 

Photo: Wilkins 






group, and crayfish abound, at Gough Island in particular, to such 
an extent that it is possible a profitable cannery could be started 

The February-March, 1922, limits and conditions of the pack 
ice for 2,500 miles from 18° E. to 52° W. between the latitudes 
of 63^-70° S. were determined. These, compared with Ross's, 
Biscoe's, Bellingshausen's and Shackleton's, are very interesting. 


ByCainfFjLjVoraley^Jl. '\ SouthWe»tP^*' 

"QUEST" R.Y.s. 1922 



J I 

BsighU in. A<e . Jttptht in, ra^Ums 



showing the great difference between one year and another, and 
even one month and another. 

In the Tristan da Cunha — Gough Island group, additional 
information for the sailing directions was obtained. Materials 
and directions were given to Robert Glass, at Tristan da Cunha. 
to erect beacons at Falmouth Bay for convenience of the in- 
habitants when landing in their boats during darkness, and to 
act as leading marks for a safe anchorage for visiting ships. 

We practically disproved the existence of a reef reported by 
two whaling captains as having been seen by them on voyages 
from Cape Town to South Georgia in 35° 40' 5). and 5° 20' W. 

350 Appendix 

(350 miles E. by N. of Tristan da Cunha). We steamed over 
the position and searched for two and a half days in the vicinity, 
half the time with a heavy southerly gale, in which a breaking 
reef would show 6 or 7 miles away. We sounded in i ,940 fathoms 
3 miles south-east from the position given, 1,942 fathoms 15 miles 
east, 1,994 fathoms 15 miles south-east, and 1,989 fathoms 8 miles 
to the east, besides four soundings of 240 fathoms no bottom and 
one of 560 fathoms no bottom at varying distances from 15 miles 
south-west to 5 miles north-west. Although I do not think the 
reef exists, this instance gives some idea of the time and trouble 
a survey ship may expend in searching for danger, and then not 
finding it, through having been given a wrong or doubtful 
position; but vessels passing this position would be well advised 
to keep a good look-out for breakers. 


Thirty-two soundings were taken in the southern ocean, 
practically all in previously sounded areas, and so of great value 
in adding to our bathymetrical knowledge of the ocean between 
the Atlantic Ocean and the Antarctic Continent. 

They were made with a Lucas machine, driven by a small 
Brotherhood engine, all kindly lent to Sir Ernest Shackleton by 
the Telegraph Construction and Maintenance Company, who also 
provided the Endurance's Lucas, with which we sounded the 
Weddell Sea. Our first line of soundings was run from a position 
500 miles east of the Sandwich group to our farthest south point 
in 69O 18' S. 17O 11' E., where we unfortunately were barred from 
further progress by heavy impenetrable pack to the south, south- 
west and south-east. The soundings here were of great interest, 
having shoaled from 2,356 fathoms to 1,089 fathoms in a distance 
of 100 miles. This, with other indications, made it practically 
certain that land lay a short distance south, possibly not more 
than 60 to 70 miles. 

An irregular line of soundings for over 2,000 miles was then 
carried out from 17O E. to 46^ W., mainly within and along the 
Antarctic Circle. The bottom, as usual, was mostly blue mud, 
droppings from icebergs, but north of "Ross's Appearance of 
Land " we dredged up a large haul of angular rocky fragments, 
to the joy of the geologist. 

Very heavy weather unfortunately prevented us sounding the 
blank area between Elephant Island and South Georgia. 

Three soundings were taken between South Georgia and 
Tristan da Cunha, but heavy weather again prevented our doing 

Our last series were taken from 50 miles north of Gough 
Island to 35O 40' S. and 5O W., the bottom over this area con- 
sisting mainly of white clay (globigerina ooze). 



sano _ ssyo . g?io ss* syso ... sf40 

54?30 54T20 54n0 



The three is indi 
three Anchorages 

O'Brien 1^ 

ate the 
of the 




Difficulty was experienced at all times in sounding owing to 
the extraordinary liveliness of the Quest, and many more sound- 
ings would have been taken but for the slowness of the vessel, 
lateness of the season, limited time and bad weather. 

A number of heights in the Tristan da Cunha, Gough Island 
group, were ascertained by Captain G. V. Douglas with an aneroid 
to be marked in excess on the Admiralty charts. 

The new heights as determined by him and compared with those 
in Admiralty charts are : By By Admiralty 

Douglas Chart 2228 

Tristan da Cunha ... 

... 6,400 


Middle Island ... 



Inaccessible Island ... 

... 1,508 


Gough Island 

,.. 2,915 


It will be noted that an increase is to be applied to the 
Admiralty height of Middle Island only. 

352 Appendix 


By A. H. Macklin, M.D. 

The following is intended to 'give briefly an idea of the special 
conditions met with in Antarctic regions and the steps taken 
for the prevention of disease. 

The chief work of the surgeon of a polar expedition is done before 
the ship leaves England, and if it has been properly carried out 
there should be little to do during the actual journey. In this 
respect casualties are excepted, for naturally they cannot be 
foreseen. They are prepared for by providing a good general 
surgical outfit, the exact composition of which will depend upon 
the amount of money available for its purchase and on the space 
at disposal for its storage. Also, as the practice of medicine and 
surgery is more of an art than an exact science, it will depend 
largely upon the individual surgeon. Many things can be omitted ; 
for example, splints, which can be improvised as required. 
There are, however, definite lines upon which the prevention 
of sickness may be carried out, and the following are important 
points : — 

Ordinary sickness can be largely ruled out by careful examina- 
tion of personnel and insistence on absolute physical fitness. In 
making the general examination the following points should be 
specially looked for : bad teeth, pyorrhoea, septic tonsils, and any 
chronic disease about the mouth, nasal passages or the accessory 
sinuses. They are often the cause of latent trouble unsuspected 
by the applicant, and their importance will be seen later in deal- 
hig" with scurvy. The ears should be tested for hearing and for 
any signs of middle ear disease. One should examine for varicose 
conditions, haemorrhoids and anal fissure or fistula, rupture, flat 
feet, and other deformities of the feet and toes, however slight, 
old-standing corns, bunions, etc. A history of dislocations should 
be inquired for, especially of the cartilages of the knee. My 
opinion is that any of these conditions should absolutely rule out 
all new applicants, for the presence of any one of them will inevit- 
ably lead to trouble. Their occurrence in men of previous polar 
experience must be carefully considered. Venereal disease should 
be an absolute bar. The wearing of spectacles does not necessarily 
rule out an applicant, but the necessity for them is a great 
handicap in cold regions. 

There are three main conditions which must be specially 

Appendix 353 

considered and prepared against ; Scurvy (and allied conditions), 
frost-bite and snow-blindness. Sea-sickness is a fourth condition 
which may cause disability, but as in the prevention and treatment 
of any disease the main principle is to remove the cause, this 
cannot be arranged for except by peace offerings to ^^olus. The 
individual must "go through it." If he gets over it — good; 
if he shows no signs of ever adapting himself, and much of the 
work of the expedition is to be done at sea, he must be sent away 
at the first opportunity, for chronic sea-sickness is a very wearing 
condition and renders the subject of it useless for work. The 
Quest was a particularly lively ship, and we lost in this way two 
otherwise very useful members of the company. 

With regard to sea-sickness remedies which depend mainly 
upon drugs having a depressing influence on the brain, I think 
they are useful for short journeys of a few hours. For long 
journeys with continued bad weather I consider them not only 
useless, but harmful. 

Scurvy {and allied conditions). — The history of scurvy in war 
and famine, in the early days of long voyages, and in Arctic 
and Antarctic exploration shows the important part which this 
disease has played. Fully developed scurvy is a horrible condition 
which renders the individual an offence to himself and to those 
about him. A famous Austrian physician, Kramer, described it 
as "The most loathsome disease in nature," so that the 
demoralizing effect of an outbreak in a small and crowded ship 
or land base can easily be imagined. 

Although a disease which has been recognized for centuries, 
it is only in recent years that medical science has been brought 
to bear upon it and the causation fully investigated. The result 
is that much new knowledge has been brought to light. 

For practical purposes it may be regarded as due to two 
main causes : 

(i) The lack in the food of an essential factor or vitamin, 
which leads to a condition of the body with diminished 
resistance to deleterious influences. 

(2) The addition to the system during this devitalized state 
of a poison. 

Prevention aims, therefore, at the provision of food containing 
the active vitamin in sufficient quantity and in taking steps to 
eliminate as far as possible poisons from the system. 

With regard to supplying the vitamin, naturally much of the 
provisions carried must be in the form of preserved foods. Un- 
fortunately, most canning and preserving processes have a 
detrimental effect upon the vitamin, and it is under conditions 
where men are compelled to live on them for long periods, witli 
no access to fresh foods, that the danger of scurvy arises. 


354 Appendix 

For many years lime-juice was regarded as a sure preventive 
and a certain cure, but this has proved fallacious. 

There are, however, certain canned and dried foods which 
contain active anti-scorbutic vitamin, though not in such great 
amount as fresh vegetables. One should endeavour to rely, there- 
fore, not on any one product, but on the regular provision of all 
foods which are of value in this way. 

With regard to the dietary, there are two sets of conditions 
to be prepared for : Life on the ship or at a well-stocked base, 
permitting of a full and varied diet for which more or less bulky 
foods can be used ; and sledging conditions, including abnormal 
circumstances arising from accident, which require a close ration. 

In making my arrangements I placed reliance on the 
following foods : For the first set of conditions, lemon-juice con- 
centrated by the method advocated by Surgeon Rear-Admiral 
Sir P. W. Bassett-Smith ; dried milk made by the "roller" 
process, condensed milk prepared by evaporation in vacuo ; canned 
tomatoes ; peas, beans and lentils for being made to germinate, 
and on prolonging the use of potatoes, carrots and onions as far as 
conditions should permit. 

Under sledging conditions the party is placed on a definite 
limited allowance. A sledging ration is composed somewhat as 
follows : Pemmican, nut food, biscuit, tea, sugar and dried or 
condensed milk, amounting to a total weight of about 2}4 lbs. 
per man per day, and having a food value of about 5,000 calories. 
Of these, only the milk can be said to contain active vitamin, 
and not in sufficient quantity to prevent scurvy. 

Shackleton added to his Endurance sledging ration capsules 
of lime-juice prepared without heat. This was in 191 3 when 
the vitamin theory was scarcely evolved, and is an example of 
his remarkable ability to organize in detail. 

For this expedition I added lemon-juice prepared as for use 
aboard ship, but made into tablets and packed in air-tight con- 
tainers, and dried milk packed in small air-tight packages, each 
package containing only one day's ration, thus avoiding undue 
exposure to air. 

Three different vitamins are described by investigators : 

The anti-rachitic fat-soluble A vitamin. 

The anti-neuritic * water-soluble B vitamin, and 

The anti-scorbutic water-soluble C vitamin. 

I have spoken only of the last ; the first hardly needs considera- 
tion here. The anti-neuritic vitamin is more easily preserved and 
•upplied than the anti-scorbutic, and for the prevention of beri- 
oeri the following foods were added to the ship's dietary : Rice 
(containing the germ), wholemeal flour, oatmeal, dried eggs, 

* Anti-beri-beri. 

Appendix 355 

dried peas, beans and lentils, and marmite, a yeast product, for 
adding occasionally to soups and stews. For sledging conditions : 
Marmite, ^ oz. per man per day (to be placed in the " hoosh "). 

In preparing the supplies we carried a large variety of foods, 
for it is of importance to prevent monotony in meals. This 
Shackleton always realized. The following from the ** The Worst 
Journey in the World" is interesting: ** Meanwhile Shackleton 's 
hut was very pleasant at this time of year . . . and the food. 
Truly Shackleton 's men must have fed like turkey cocks for all 
the delicacies here. ..." The addition of a few delicacies adds 
little to the cost of an expedition, but means a great deal to those 
engaged in it. I think it would surprise most people to know 
what can be done in the way of supplying wholesome and attrac- 
tive foods in a preserved state by modern plants. There should 
be one standard of quality only : the best, and goods should be 
obtained only from firms of the highest repute. 

The elimination of poisons from the system is aimed at 
firstly, by thorough preliminary examination, as already indicated, 
to avoid sources of poisons in the body itself, e.g., the mouth, 
teeth, throat, and nasal passages with their accessory sinuses, 
and, secondly, by ensuring that no bad or ** high " food shall 
be eaten. 

Constipation in any of the personnel is a factor which must 
be avoided, and it is necessary that all hands be impressed with 
the importance of a regular daily movement of the bowels and 
a complete evacuation at each act. Defaecation is apt to be 
hurried or neglected in bad weather at sea and in cold and snowy 
weather ashore. Polar travel does not admit of comfortable 
latrines, and this often means exposure to wind and drift, for 
the daily functions are carried out in the ordinary way. This 
exposure of the body, though exceedingly uncomfortable, leads 
to no lasting harm, for, as will be shown, it is in the comparatively 
bloodless extremities that frost-bite usually occurs. Constipation 
is follovv'ed by absorption of poison from the bowel, and so must 
be especially avoided if the risk of scurvy is imminent. Its 
correction in bad weather must be carefully carried out, for the 
cruelty of drastic purgation under these conditions can be 

In future those responsible must make themselves au fait with 
the steps necessary to prevent the onset of deficiency diseases. 
Scurvy caused the failure of Lord Anson's expedition ; in Captain 
Cook's brilliant voyages it was absent. Compare the bad coM- 
ditions in the Alert and Discovery in 1875 with the earlier voyages 
of Sir Robert McClure in the Investigator. Always success and 
failure have depended upon its presence or absence. In more 
recent times, take the case of Captain Scott and the gallant 
companions who met their fate so bravely. Mr. Cherry Garrard 

356 Appendix 

attributes their failure to return from the Pole to several condi- 
tions, one of them a deficiency in the calorific value of their ration. 
"It is a fact that the polar party failed to make their distance 
because they became weak, although they were eating their full 
ration or more than their full ration of food, save for a few days 
when they were short on the way down the Beardmore Glacier. ..." 
He goes on to say : " The Summit (S) ration consisted of biscuits 
i6, pemmican 12, butter 2, cocoa 0.57, sugar 3, and tea 0.86 oz. ; 
total, 34.43 oz. daily per man." 

I do not know the composition of the pemmican, but this ration 
should yield nearly 5,000 calories. I should consider it to be 
devoid of anti-scorbutic and anti-neuritic vitamin, and, indeed, 
the whole medical history of that return journey shows that these 
men were fighting an unknown enemy greater than all the forces 
of the Antarctic. In a footnote Mr. Cherry Garrard mentions the 
possibility of vitamin deficiency, and it is noteworthy that Dr. 
Atkinson added fresh onions (brought by the ship) to the next 
year's ration. I think there can be no doubt that there was 
vitamin deficiency, and it all goes to emphasize my point of the 
absolute necessity for careful medical organization to prevent 
these preventable conditions, for it is my firm belief that the 
cause of Scott's death lay not in the Antarctic, but in his 
preparations in England prior to setting out. The knowledge of 
the subject necessary to enable him to prepare a sledging ration 
containing active vitamin was not then available. 

As there are two definite causes of fully developed scurvy, 
viz. the lack of "vitamin" and the addition of a poison, so the 
symptoms and signs divide themselves into two stages : 

(i) A stage of general lassitude with loss of vigour and a 
diminished resistance to outside influences. 

(2) A stage of toxaemia which once started progresses 
rapidly and produces the symptoms and signs usually 
associated with scurvy. 

One must be constantly on the watch for the first stage, for 
unless carefully looked for it will probably not be recognized, as 
the man affected can give little clue to what is wrong with him. 
I saw many hundreds of such cases during the war in North 
Russia when scurvy was common, none of them showing any 
local signs at all. When the better-known signs appear, such as 
spongy gums, blotches in the skin and lumps in the legs, the 
disease is in an advanced stage. 

My own arrangements for prevention were published in full 
prior to our start in the Lancet, August 13th, 192 1. I believe 
this is the only Antarctic expedition that on setting out has 
not taken chances with scurvy, though the absence of any signs 
of the disease from any of Sir Ernest Shackleton's own parties 

Appendix 357 

is remarkable. The reason is that the necessary knowledge had 
not till that time been available. 

Space forbids a full description here, but there are two 
important points to which I must refer : Dried cereals by 
themselves do not contain active anti-scorbutic vitamin, but 
if made to germinate the green shoots which sprout from them 
are rich in it. This is a point of immense practical value, 
the application of which is obvious. With regard to fresh meat, 
it has been shown by Stefansson in the North, and by members 
of the Endurance expedition in the South, that health can be 
maintained on a purely meat diet, and that fresh meat, if taken 
in sufficient quantity, is effective to cure scurvy. Stefansson, in 
the Friendly Arctic, says that it must be eaten raw or very much 
underdone, but our experience in the South showed that this is 
not necessary. In fact, a certain degree of cooking is advisable. 
He states also that putrefactive meat is an effective cure for 
scurvy. This I think is dangerous teaching; in any stage of 
scurvy anything putrefactive should be avoided if possible unless 
there is nothing else. 

Those general readers who desire to learn more of this most 
interesting disease are referred to the bibliography at the end of 
the report. 

On this expedition there was no scurvy, and no risk of it, 
for we were never long enough away from sources of fresh food. 
Yet I would emphasize the necessity of strong anti-** deficiency 
disease" measures in polar work, whatever the programme may 
be, for in the pack ice accidents may at any time occur leading 
to altogether unforeseen conditions as regards food supply. 

Frost-bite is a condition well known to all polar explorers. 
If neglected it may lead to most crippling results, and, like 
scurvy, requires careful preventive measures. 

The parts of the body most commonly affected are the exposed 
parts of the face, especially where the skin is drawn tight over 
underlying bone, e.g. the sides of the nose, the cheekbones and 
the chin ; the ears, the fingers and the toes. In parts other than 
the fingers and toes the condition is usually not serious, for frost- 
bite of the face and ears, if neglected, may cause disfigurement, 
but no real crippling. It is a good practice for men in company 
to scrutinize each others' faces, and a valuable piece of equip- 
ment is a small mirror in which a man without companions can 
examine his own face. Frost-bite of the fingers, though more 
serious, is usually quickly recognized and promptly treated. 

Frost-bite of the toes and feet is an extremely dangerous 
condition and may have far-reaching results. The danger lies 
in the fact that its incidence is often unknown to the man 
attacked, and, though he may suspect its onset, he may neglect 
to examine his feet, for polar footgear is elaborate and cumber- 

358 Appendix 

some, examination of toes on the march means a halt, and a 
certain amount of time is consumed in unfastening and securing 
the foot-coverings. 

Prevention is aimed at generally by maintaining health and a 
vigorous circulation. Anything which depresses the health and 
lowers vitality predisposes to frost-bite. In polar work the most 
important are exhaustion, hunger and vitamin deficiency. During 
a sledge journey vitamin deficiency, the consequent lack of 
resistance, and the more easily induced frost-bite create a condition 
of the gravest danger to the man or the party so affected. 

Locally, prevention lies in providing suitable clothing. In 
whatever form it takes the principle aimed at is the same, viz. 
to provide a non-conducting air space round the skin. The head 
and ears are protected by woollen and windproof helmets. The 
face cannot be covered, for masks get so heavily iced up as to 
make things worse. A cowl can be fitted to the helmet which, 
when thrown forward, to some extent shields the face from winds. 
The hands are enclosed in mitts, not gloves, in which the fingers 
are all together. The finger portion should be large enough to 
allow inclusion of the thumb when the hand is not in use. 
Sometimes two or three pairs are worn, the outer pair being of 
windproof material. 

To provide adequate foot protection which shall not at the 
same time be cumbersome is not an easy matter, for things which 
are loose about the feet are unwieldy. Woollen socks which 
enmesh the air in their stitches provide a good insulating air space. 
In low temperatures two, three or four pairs may be necessary. 
To prevent constriction of the feet it is of importance that each 
outer pair of socks should be a size larger than the one inside, 
and so they should be supplied in series. The cramming of a 
foot with too many pairs of socks into a boot too small for them 
is bad, for the circulation of blood to the toes is restricted and 
the air space is lost. Cold feet have often been cured by telling 
the wearer to remove a pair of socks. 

All possible steps must be taken to see that the air space is 
not replaced by moisture, i.e. the feet and coverings must be 
kept dry. This is a difficult problem ; coverings which allow of 
ventilation allow access of damp from the outside, and waterproof 
coverings retain perspiration. It is usually impossible to ensure 
absolute dryness, and therefore socks should always be changed 
before turning in to sleep. This should be made an inviolable 
rule, yet it is one which is often broken. Damp socks should 
not be placed in a freezing atmosphere, for the moisture in them 
will freeze and render difficult the putting of them on in the 
morning. They should be kept in the sleeping-bag or placed 
under the jersey. By this means they dry rapidly. Sennegrass 
may be used for taking up perspiration ; it has the property of 

Appendix 359 

rapidly giving up its moisture. Some people prefer to use pieces 
of flannel instead of socks ; the pieces are wrapped about the feet, 
and have the advantage that when taken off they can be spread 
out and thus dry more rapidly. 

All tight fittings and all constrictions which serve to impede 
the circulation should be avoided. Success in preventing frost- 
bite is attained only by continued and careful attention to detail. 

Precautions which are carried out by men in good condition 
are liable to be ignored by those who are exhausted or weak from 
any cause, and under these conditions frost-bite occurs frequently. 
A frost-bitten part becomes waxy white in appearance. If treated 
at once no harm results, if neglected death of the part ensues. 
Treatment on the spot consists not in rubbing the part with snow 
(men have been killed for less), but in applying dry, gentle warmth. 
Very light massage may be used, but violent rubbing, especially 
of the face, is liable to remove the cuticle and leave a weeping 
sore. Fingers can be thrust inside the affected man's own cloth- 
ing next to the warm skin. A frozen toe can be similarly nursed 
back by a " Good Samaritan " placing the toe against his skin 
and enfolding the ankle — a most unpleasant job, but most excellent 
treatment. A hand taken from a warm mitt can be placed on 
the face, nose or ears. Recovery is accompanied by an intense 
feeling of "pins and needles." A part that does not immediately 
come back to normal must be kept warm and dry, and the appli- 
cation of a little methylated spirit or turpentine is good. 

It is essential to avoid grease and wet. I have, in the 
Antarctic, the Italian Alps, and in Russia, made extensive tests 
of oils, fats and grease, and have come to the conclusion that 
the application of vaseline or ointment is the worst treatment 
possible, especially if the part is liable to be again exposed to 
cold. Too great heat is bad. The circulation must be coaxed 
back gently. Too sudden a return leads to exudation and choked 
capillaries, just as theatre passages are choked at the cry of 

Non-recovery leads ultimately to gangrene. If superficial, the 
part may separate of itself, leaving a good new skin underneath 
which is at first very tender ; if deeper, judicious amputation may 
be required. The gangrene may be dry or moist. In the former 
case the part shrinks and becomes black and scaly, the condition 
having little effect upon the general health. It is dry and in- 
offensive. In the case of moist gangrene the part becomes septic, 
is very offensive, and absorption of poisons leads to impaired 
health. The amount of the limb that requires amputation depends 
upon the severity and extent of the frost-bite. It must be em- 
phasized that in examining a part for frost-bite the waxy 
appearance may not be present. It does not follow that the part 
has not been frost-bitten or is not seriously affected. There is a 

36o Appendix 

more slowly produced condition, due to the action of prolonged 
cold, in which blood returning- into the capillaries which have 
been damaged by the continued constriction due to the cold sets 
up inflammation and exudation, which may lead to death of the 
part. Signs of mottling, at first pinky white, later blue-grey, 
should be looked for, and if they appear the parts must be treated 
with the greatest care. If circumstances permit, the limb should 
be raised, rested, and dry, warm (not hot) dressings applied. 
For unbroken parts I use cotton wool which has been thoroughly 
dried, bandaged lightly; for cases when the skin is broken, lint 
which has been warmed and the surface scorched to render it 
sterile, covered with warm, dry wool, and again lightly bandaged. 
This simple treatment can be applied under any conditions in 
which it is possible to produce a flame. Cases take a long 
time to recover fully. Ointments, hot wet dressings, and 
poultices should be avoided. A milder though similarly pro- 
duced effect leads to an irritable condition resembling chilblains. 
It affects commonly the tips of the ears. The momentary exposure 
of bare skin does not lead to immediate frost-bite, but the length 
of time that it can be exposed depends upon the temperature, 
the amount of moisture present, and the strength of wind. It is 
often necessary in carrying out a piece of work to expose the 
hands, which may require periodical warming up. Much depends 
upon the circulation, for if a job is attempted after the body has 
been for some time at rest frost-bite sets in quickly. If, on the 
other hand, the individual has been working hard, walking or 
running, and the blood is pulsating actively, the hands and other 
parts can be exposed for comparatively long periods without harm. 
As a result of unrecognized and untreated frost-bite strong 
men have been crippled for life. Constant watchfulness is 
required ; its danger cannot be over-estimated, nor too much 
emphasis placed upon measures for its prevention. 

Notes on Oils and Grease 

It is commonly believed that fats, oils and grease are good 
non-conductors of heat and if placed on the clothes or on the 
skin help to keep one warm. There was never a greater fallacy, 
for it is common experience of polar explorers that the reverse 
is the case. Circumstances do not permit of regular laundrying 
or even of regular hot baths, and situations are not rare at this 
work in which men have spent several months without a wash 
or a change of clothes. After the loss of the Endurance the party 
had neither for a year. The clothes inevitably became greasy, 
especially about the elbows and thighs. The cold could be felt 
"striking through" the greasy parts. 

It was often necessary to kill and cut up seals. In the process 
the left hand grasped the blubber and became very greasy, whilst 

Appendix 361 

the right hand, which wielded the knife, very largely escaped. 
Usually it was possible only to wipe with snow, which had little 
effect to remove the grease, before replacing the hands in mitts. 
Subsequently the left hand felt colder and was more liable to 
frost-bite. Socks which have been worn for some time and become 
slightly greasy are less warm than clean, dry socks. There are 
socks of a type manufactured by certain firms which have been 
deliberately imbued with grease to make them warmer. The 
wearing of them produced the opposite effect. During the war 
I made experiments upon myself and with troops, in which two 
stretcher-bearers massaged the feet of each man, the left foot 
with whale oil and the right by rubbing only. Both were done 
at the same time and for the same length of time. The results 
were greatly in favour of the dry rubbing. I collected also a 
number of socks which had been worn (and were therefore greasy) 
and dried them thoroughly. I acquired some absolutely new socks, 
and issued one dry, greasy sock and one new sock to each man. 
Evidence in this case was not unanimous, but was numerically 
in favour of the clean sock. 

The conclusion is that oils and grease are of small value for 
protection against cold and should as far as possible be avoided. 

It may be thought that by not washing or having a change 
of clothes for a long period the skin gets Into a bad state. 
Fortunately, in the Antarctic there are no human parasites, and 
one does not perspire so freely as in warmer climates. Never- 
theless, when working hard in very low temperatures perspiration 
may be very free, and consequently well-ventilated clothing is 
necessary. Modern Antarctic equipment consists of warm woollen 
underclothes and very light windproof overalls made of closely 
woven material. Furs are not used, though they are favoured 
still by some Arctic explorers. The theory is often put forward 
that the best procedure to adopt in the Arctic is to copy as nearly 
as possible the clothing of the Esquimaux, for, that being their 
home, naturally they know what is best. This view is strongly 
urged by Canadians who trade along the Arctic coast. Certainly 
it has the advantage of cheapness, but I wonder if they went 
to Central Africa whether they would adopt the loin cloth — also 
cheap? As a matter of fact, experience has shown that the skin 
improves in condition and takes on a white, silky softness that 
some women might envy. It is advisable under the conditions 
to seize any chance of still air and bright sunshine to remove the 
clothes, dust from them the flakes of skin which are constantly 
being shed, and give the body an air bath. 

Snow-hlindness is a condition of acute and sudden congestion 
of the eyes, affecting chiefly the conjunctivae (the delicate mem- 
branes which cover the greater part of the front of the eye). 
The little blood-vessels become dilated, producing a prickly sensa- 


362 - Appendix 

tion of grit in the eyes, which become painful in strong light. 
The condition may become worse, leading to a marked congestion 
with heavy discharge and total blindness. Snow-blindness is 
produced less frequently by sun-glare on the snow than by a 
diffuse dull light which casts no shadows and requires continuous 
strain to pick out hummocks and unevenness of the ice. It is 
said that people with less pigment, i.e. "blue-eyed" people, 
suffer more than those with darker, more heavily pigmented eyes, 
but this is not always the case. 

The condition can be prevented by wearing goggles with 
tinted lenses ; e.g. the ordinary dark Crookes lenses are quite 
effective. The frame is of importance, for it must allow of free 
ventilation without side glare. The Rowley snow goggle, as used 
by Amundsen and Shackleton, is a thoroughly effective design. 
The contour of the face and the depth of the eye sockets differ 
so much in different individuals that each man should be fitted 
for goggles prior to starting. 

If treated early the condition gives little trouble. Even bad 
cases are easily treated on board ship, or at a base, by protecting 
the eye from strong light, and frequent bathing with warm water, 
boracic lotion, or, better still, very dilute zinc sulphate. If on 
the march, treatment is more difficult, for lotions will probably 
not be available. Small, portable and very effective tabloid outfits 
are obtainable, containing eye drugs in small lamellae, which, 
when placed in the eye, are dissolved in the tears and so form 
lotions. It must be remembered, when selecting the small outfits, 
that one which may be easily manipulated in the warm show- 
rooms of Messrs. Burroughs and Wellcome may not be so easily 
handled with fingers benumbed and made clumsy with cold. 

For the non-medical man the best treatment is first to place 
in the eye a cocaine lamella to relieve pain, and follow it in a 
few minutes by another of zinc sulphate. Pituitary and adrenal 
extracts have a very rapid effect, but must be used with great 
care. Untreated snow-blindness in bad cases may lead to per- 
manent results. The condition is preventable and easily treated 
in its early stage, hence once more the great importance of careful 

Bacterial affections are rare. "Colds in the head" hardly 
ever occur, and if they do are probably due to germs brought 
by the party themselves. Wounds, however, readily become septic. 
Even clean cuts take a long time to heal, and unite with more 
scarring than usually happens in more temperate regions. This 
is due to the comparatively bloodless condition of the skin. Steps 
should always be taken to keep the injured part as warm as 
possible. When possible it is an economy to rest and carefully 
look after open wounds however slight, for the reluctance to heal 
often causes long-continued annovance. 

Appendix 363 

Every polar surgeon must be prepared to do his own nursing. 
There is no one else to do it. Conditions for a sick or injured 
man, even under the best circumstances, are far from being ideal, 
yet much can be done by improvising and keeping an adaptable 
mind. Comfort, even for an invalid, is a relative term. The 
great thing is to keep the patient cheery, and in the ship, at a 
base hut, in a tent, or even under an upturned boat, one can be 
continually doing little things to make him feel that he is being 
well looked after. 

The surgeon's advice is often sought with regard to 
local food supplies. There is very little in the way of 
animal flesh that one cannot eat if put to it, and a few precautions 
in cooking can make almost anything palatable. The meat 
of whales, seals, sea-elephants, sea-leopards and penguins is 
all very similar, being composed of a dark red coloured flesh 
of coarse texture. They have a somewhat strong oily taste, 
which one learns not to dislike in cold regions. The organs, such 
as the brains, hearts, livers and kidneys, are edible and are said 
to be rich in anti-neuritic vitamin. One has to beware of 
parasites. Fish form the diet of most of these animals, and are 
a prolific source of tape worm, round worm and small thread 
worms. Often, also, the liver contains small trematodes. Weddell 
seals and sea-leopards especially seem to be infested with these 
parasites ; on being cut open they have often an unpleasant toxic 
smell, the Intestines swarm with worms, the heart may have small 
cysts on its surface, small animalculae may be detected in the 
bile which flows from the cut liver, and the spleen and lymph 
glands are often enlarged, showing that the animal is suffering 
from a general poisoning. Unless the party is starving, such an 
animal should naturally be rejected in toto, although the meat 
may appear to be sound. 

The crab-eater seals, which live largely on small crustaceae, 
are much more healthy animals. Penguins also require careful 
examination. Seabirds have a rather strong taste of oil and 
fishiness, which can largely be removed by soaking them in dilute 
vinegar for twenty-four hours. Young albatross and paddy 
birds require no special treatment and are delicious. Fish 
swarm in Antarctic and sub- Antarctic regions wherever there 
is shoal water and kelp, as also round the South Atlantic 
islands, where crayfish also can be obtained. Every effort 
should be made to vary a diet of preserved provisions by 
seizing the chance whenever possible of obtaining any of the 

There is much of interest in the medical side of exploration 
that space forbids me to touch on, but there is one point which 
is likely to concern the surgeon of a polar expedition, whose 
department is an all-embracing^ one : the health and physical 

364 Appendix 

fitness of sledge dogs.^ Many explorers have found dogs unsatis- 
factory as a means of transport. This is especially the case 
with British explorers. Scott found them a failure on his first 
expedition and put little trust in them on his last. Shackleton, 
in his own first expedition, as a result of his experience with Scott, 
used ponies in preference. Careful organization has been put into 
providing and preparing for various forms of mechanical trans- 
port before the expeditions concerned left England, yet Shackleton 
in getting ready for the Endurance expedition is, so far as I 
know, the only British explorer who seriously organized and 
thoroughly prepared for an efficient service of dog transport 
prior to his start. Sledges, harness, traces and, last, not 
least, food and sledging rations were worked out in detail. Com- 
mander Wild, who associated with him in this work, is a strong 
advocate of their utility. During the expedition the dogs 
were rigidly disciplined and carefully "vetted," and the results 
were splendid. We were unable to attempt the cross-country 
journey, yet the work of the dogs day by day was marvellous. 
There was no ice too rough for them, they crossed broad leads 
of water at high speed over nothing but rubble, wherever men 
could take a sledge they could take it faster, and sometimes go 
where men could not. They required no tents or sleeping-bags — 
only a minimum of one pound of good food per day. 

Dogs are living organisms, like men, and require treatment 
as such. Their characters must be studied and their health looked 
after. To begin with, like men, they must be physically fit, they 
must be kept fit, their coats brushed and combed, their skin 
and paws kept in good order, they must be freed from parasites, 
and their fighting wounds made to heal. Like men, they must 
be well disciplined and trained, and then they are fit to send out 
on a sledge journey. 

The sledging ration must be as carefully worked out as that 
of the men with a view to calorific value and vitamin sufficiency. 
Dogs are possessed of a high degree of intelligence, are hardy, 
and can look after themselves. As I have said, they can take 
a sledge anywhere that men can, therefore they are worth looking 
after. Yet one of the most pitiable things in the history of polar 
exploration is the way in which dogs have been neglected, left in 
miserable condition when probably all that was required was a 
dose of castor oil and a good vermifuge, made to work to the last 
ounce on a totally inadequate ration, and finally driven to death. 

Amongst the names of non-British explorers which stand out 
are those of Sverdrup, Amundsen and Peary. They looked after 
the health of their dogs, and were amply repaid for the care 

» As events turned out, dogs were not used in the Qugst expedition, but the writer has 
decided to include this point m his observations. 

Appendix 365 

During the voyage of the Quest there was little sickness. A 
number of casualties occurred, most of them trivial and easily 
dealt with, none producing serious results. 

There was one death : Sir Ernest Shackleton. The cause was 
atheroma of the coronary arteries. The condition was a long- 
standing one and in my opinion was due to overstrain during a 
period of debility. In his history there are many occasions when 
it may have been produced. The scurvy which he developed 
during the southern journey of the Discovery expedition may have 
produced lasting results. It. has been stated that his collapse 
caused the failure of that journey. I must make it plain that 
the development of scurvy in an individual during a sledge journey 
is not in any way the fault of the individual, but results from 
faulty organization. Sir Ernest Shackleton has never had a single 
case of scurvy, or any condition allied to it, in any party under 
his charge. His condition may have been produced during his 
own great pioneer journey towards the South Pole. 

What is remarkable is that in such an advanced condition he 
was able to carry on as he did. It shows, psychologically, a 
wonderful will power and an unyielding determination to over- 
come difficulties. In this respect may be noted one of the last 
things which he wrote (in a final letter to Mr. Rowett) : 
*' Never for me the lowered banner. 
Never the lost endeavour." 

In other psychological respects he was remarkable, as is seen 
in the combination of a happy and apparently carefree tempera- 
ment with an ability for accurate and detailed organization. As 
a leader he was always ** boss." He was condemnatory of short- 
coming and exacting in the service rendered by subordinates, 
yet he drew from all who worked for him a deep liking and an 
unfailing loyalty. His physical qualities are well known. As a 
living organism he was wonderful. 

Bassett-Smith. " Scurvy ; with Special Reference to Prophyllaxis in the Roya 

Navy." Proc. Roy. Soc. Med. 1920, Vol. xiii (War Section). 
Chick, H., and Delf, E. M. " The Antiscorbutic Value of Dry and Germinated 

Seeds." Biochem. Jour., 1919, xiii, 199. 
Chick, H., and Hume. " The Distribution amongst Foodstuffs ... of the Sub- 
stances Required for the Prevention of (a) Beri-beri and (6) Scurvy." Trans. 
Soc. Trop. Med. and Hyg. 1917, x, 141. 
CouTTS. (Upon an inquiry as to dried milk, etc.). Report to the Local Govern- 
ment Board, 19 18. New Series, No. 116, 31. 
Hess. Scurvy Past and Present. Lippincott, 1920. 

" Newer Aspects of Some Nutritional Disorders." Jour. Amer. Med. Assocn., 

March 12, 1921. Vol. 76. 
LiND. Treatise on Scurvy. London, 1772. 

McCarrison. " Studies in Deficiency Disease." Oxford Med. Publication, 1921. 
Macklin. "A Polar Expedition." Lancet, March, 1921. 
Macklin and Hussey. " Scurvy : Its Prevention on a Polar Expedition." Lancet, 

Aug. 13, 1921. 
Medical Research Committee. " Report on the Present State of Knowledge 
Concerning Accessory Food Factors (Vitamines), 19 19." 


Sir Ernest Shackleton, C.V.O. Died in South Georgia. 

Frank Wild, C.B.E. 

F. A. WoRSLEY. D.S.O., O.B.E., 

R.D., R.N.R. 
D. G. Jeffrey, D.S.O., R.N.R. 
A. J. Kerr 
C. E. Smith 


Hydrographer and Sailing Mastef 

Chief Engineer. 
Second Engineer. 

A. H. Macklin, O.B.E., M.C., Surgeon, and in charge of stores 

M.D. and equipment. 

J. A. McIlroy, M.R.C.S., L.R.C.P. Surgeon and Meteorologist. 

L. D. A. HussE 

Y, B.Sc. 

Meteorologist and Assistant 




G. V. Douglas, 

M.C.. M.Sc. 


C. R. Carr, D.F.C. 


J. W. S. Marr 


J. W. Dell 

Electrician and Boatswain. 

C. J. Green 


Harold Watts 

Wireless Operator. 

T. F. McLeod 


S. S. Young 


G. H. Ross 


H. J. Argles 


Christopher Naisbitt 

Ship's Clerk. 


AARBERG, Dr., i8o, 1 86, 190 
Aarberg, Mrs., 69, 180, 190, 194 
Admiralty, 7, 10, 314, 344, 348 
Air Ministry, 7, 13, 340, 343 
Albatross, 49, 52, 83, 186-189, 190, 294, 

296, 363, see also Appendix iii 
Island, 186 
Albuera. 66, 67, 190 
Amphipods, loi 

Andersen, Mr., manager, Husvik, 76 
Anenkov Island, 172 
Argles, H. J., 48, 49, 83, 92, 118, 139, 

141, 145, 148, 186, 197, 272, 327 
Ascension Island, 287, 301-309, 327 
Atmospheric effects, n6, 126, 156, 290 


Badkn-Powex,!,, Sir Robert, 170, 232 
Barlas, Mr., Assistant Magistrate, 

South Georgia, 67 
Barrier, Great Ice, 78, 83 
Bay of Biscay, 19, 341 

Isles, 185 
Beaufort Sea, 2 
Becker, Sir Frederick, ix, 3 
Begbie, Mr. Harold, viii 
Biunie, Mr., Resident Magistrate, South 

Georgia, 176, 196 
Bird life, E^lephant Island, 335 

Gough Island, 272, 337-338 

St. Paul's Rocks, 329 

St. Vincent, 328 

at sea, 52, 83, 329. 334-335, 339 

South Georgia, 330-333 

Tristan da Cunha, 213, 336 

Zavodovski Island, 334 
Bird wood Bank, 7 
Biscoe, John, voyage of, 130 

Blendon Hall, wreck of, 211 
Blubber as fuel, 106, 108, 137, 145, 168 
Bostock, Mr., manager, Prince Olaf 

Harbour, 185, 189 
Bouvet Island, 6, 79, 91 
Bransfield Strait, 72 
Bridgland, Captain F., 17 
Buenos Aires, 264 

Canadian Government, 3, 4 
Cape Colony, 205, 292, 345 
Cape George, 349 

of Good Hope, 205, 29c 
I^indsay, 348 
Lookout, 157, 162 
Roca, 29 
Valentine, 155 

Wild, 156, 158, 162, 165-167 
Cape hen, 52, see also Appendix iii 
pigeon, 52, 83, 159, 190, see also 
Appendix iii 
Cape Town, 6, 13, 46, 72, 73, 75, 137, 
148, 214, 216, 237, 243, 254, 256, 
262-264, 271, 284, 287-294, 343 
Cape Verde Islands, 3^ 
Carr, C. R., 14, 27, 38, 49, 50, 52, 61, 
80, 82, 83, 91, 100, 105, 118, 140, 
142, 148, 149, 157, 159, 167, 185, 
186, 190, 197, 202, 206, 212, 231, 

Cascaes, 29 
Caves, ice, 89 

Gough Island, 280, 283 

Middle Island, 324 

Zavodovski Island, 87, 334, 347 
Challenger, 206, 321 
Christmas celebrations, 50-52 




Clarence Island, 154, 155, 156, 317 
Clark, Mr. R. S., of Endurance. 308, 

331 (notes). 332 (notes). 333 
Clerk Rocks. 82, 347 
Clothing, 76, 358, 361 
Coats I^and, 78, 314 
Continental Shelf, 120 
Cook, Mr. James A., x, 290, 295 
Cooper Bay, 80, 82, 316, 347 

Island, 346, 347 
Comwallis Island, 155 
Cotton, Miss Betty, 241 
Crayfish, 274, 278, 280, 349, 363 
Crozet Island, 6 
Cumberland Bay, 60, 346 

Dbception Isi^and, 91, 137, 140, 168, 

DeU, J. W.. 14. 27. 38. 49. 54. 77. 83. 

91-93, 104, 120, 132, 140, 147, 169, 

178, 196, 209, 265, 287-289, 327, 

Diatoms. loi 

Diego Alvarez Island, see Gough Island 
Diet, 353-357 

Discovery. 14, 68, 308, 365 
Dogs, sledge, 364 
Dominican gull, 112, 159, see also 

Appendix iii 
Dougherty Island, 7 
Douglas, G. v., 15, 22, 27, 38, 49, 59, 

77, 80, 82, 83, 94, 100, 124, 134, 

139, 142, 146, 148, 149, 157, 163, 

179. 197. 206, 231, 287, 292, 304, 
309. 343. 348. 351 

diary, 208, 209, 210, 212, 214 
geological observations, 314-318 

Dredging, 149, 296 

Drygalski Fiord, 82 

East India Company, 205, 297, 300 
Elephant Island, 81, 91, 137, 145, 153- 

168, 171, 178, 183, 273, 317-318, 

335. 342. 347-348. 350 

Enderby Brothers, 5 

I,and, 73, 314 

Quadrant, 7, 292 
Endurance, 3, 61, 68, 90, 99, 117, 119. 
152, 155. 183, 194, 308. 350, 354, 
357. 360, 364 
Equipment, general, 15, 72, 76 

scientific, 10-13, 34^. 343 
Eriksen, 15, 27, 36, 38, 48 
Euphausiae. loi, iii 
Expedition, Bellingshausen's, 86 

Canadian Arctic, 14, 344 

Deutschland, 46, 196 

German Trtmsit of Venus, 197 

Imperial Trans-Antarctic, i 

Mawson, 87 

Shackleton, 191 4-16, 348 

Shackleton-Rowett, 6 
Expedition Topics, 93, 97 

Fai,ki.and Isi,ands, 79, 184 
Falmouth Bay, Tristan da Cunha. 

beacons, 349 
Foca I, see Quest 
France, 37 
Frost-bite, 353. 357-36o 

Garrard, Mr. A. Cherry, 355, 356 
The Worst Journey in the World, 

Glaciers, Elephant Island, 158, 161, 

South Georgia, 197, 198, 316 
Zavodovski Island, 86 
Glass, Corporal William, 222, 238-239. 

248, 259 
Gough Island, 6, 215, 265-286, 287, 291. 

319-320. 337-340, 343. 348. 350. 

Gould, Lieut. Comdr., 7 
Graham Land, 72, 74,^75 



Green, C. J., 20, 24, 26, 36, 49, 51. 54. 

81, 83, 97, 190, 191, 194, 197, 202, 

294. 296, 302, 309 
Gritviken Harbour, 59, 60, 67, 69, 76, 

192. 195 
Growlers, 132, 152 

Hansen, Mr., manager, Leith Harbour, 

67, 76, 77, 109, 172, 176, 179, 180, 

182, 190, 333 
Harmsworth, Mr. A. C, 5 
Heard Island, 6 
Hodson, Mr., of Discovery, 308 
Hussey, L. D. A., 14, 23, 27, 33, 38, 40, 

43. 49-52. 61, 65, 67, 69, 76, 84, 

172, 178, 182, 185, 194 
account of the burial of Sir B. 

Shackleton, 173-177 
Husvik Harbour, 76, 185 

Ice, fresh water from sea, 118 

pack, 79, 98-100, 102, 104, 107, 112, 
118, 129-133. 136, 143. 149, 150. 
152. 350 
pancake, 135, 136 
see also Growlers and the Pack 
Icebergs, 58, 83, 85-91, 93, 96, 141, 142, 

149, 152, 156, 159, 350 
Ice-blink, 98, 136 
Illness, prevention of, 352 
Inaccessible Island, 6, 203, 205, 206, 
211-213, 239, 324-325. 351 

J ACOBSEN, Captain, of Professor Gruvel, 

67. 74 

Jacobsen, Mr., manager, Gritviken, 61, 
66, 75, 80, 261 

Jeffrey, D. G., 14, 23, 27, 38, 43, 48, 
49. 52. 77. 82, 83, 85, 87, 103, 105, 
122, 142, 146, 149, 163, 166, 178, 
186, 187, 191, 196, 197, 202, 206, 
209, 231, 266, 309, 343 


Kelp, 82, 191, 209, 214, 274, 346, 348, 

Kelvin sounding machine, 12, 84, 318, 


Kerr, A. J., 14, 17, 28, 29, 34, 42, 47, 
49, 52. 53. 55. 56. 74. 78. 83, 87, 
92, 109, 122, 128, 136, 149, 151, 
157, 159. 179. 194. 202, 292, 303, 

Killer whales, 93, 102, 111-114, 125, 
131, 132, 143, 146, 335 

I^ARSEN Harbour, 82, 331 {note 2), 

Least, Captain, of Woodville, 69, 174 
Leith Harbour, 66, 76, 77, 80, 172, 190 
Lisbon, 29, 30, 32, 78, 341 
Lucas sounding machine, 12, 91, 92, 

289. 344. 350 
Lysaght, Mr. Gerald, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25 


McIivROY, J. A., 14, 19, 27, 49, 52, 61, 
65, 67, 80, 83, 91, 92, 95, loo, 104, 
118, 126, 129, 140, 141, 149, 157, 
159. 168, 170, 185, 194, 197, 201, 
202, 232, 292 

Macklin, A. H., x, 3, 6, 14, 23, 27, 38, 
40, 45, 48, 49, 52, 61, 62, 67, 75, 80, 
81, 83, 89, 91-95. 98, 103-105, 112, 
118, 126, 132, 139, 140, 142, 147- 
152, 157, 159, 163, 166, 167, 185, 
188, 191, 194, 196, 197, 202, 204, 
214, 216, 270, 284, 292, 298, 302, 
303. 309 
diary, 57, 64, 122, 135, 141, 145, 153 
164, i86-i88, 191, 199, 275, 294- 
296, 302, 304-308 
medical, 352-365 
Tristan da Cunha, 219-264 

Macleod, T. F., 14, 19, 27, 49, 52, 77 
83, 92, loo, 123, 140, 152, 163, 169, 
178, 187, 194, 201, 290 



Macquarie Island, 87, 273 

Madeira, 17, 19, 31, 34, 310 

Manson, Captain, of Albuera, 67, 190 

Marion Island, 6 

Marr, J. W. S., 15, 21, 23, 30, 32, 
36. 38, 49, 52, 77. 80, 81. 83. 84, 
91. 118, 132, 140, 146, 150, 163, 
169, 178, 186, 197, 202, 206, 212, 
232, 304. 327 
diary, 33, 94, 144, 207 

Mason, J. C. Bee, 14, 23, 27-29, 31, 

Middle Island, 205, 208, 210, 324, 351 

Mill, Dr. H. R., viii, 3 

Mollymauk, 213, 245, see also Appendix 

Moltke Harbour, 197 

Monte Video, 67, 69, 173-177 

Mooney, N. E., 15, 21, 22, 28-32 

Mount Paget, 315 


Naisbitt, C, 48, 49, 52, 77, 83, 93, 97, 

98, 118, 148, 270, 278 
Natural History Museum, British, 163, 

New York, 164 
Neko, floating factory, 177, 178, 182, 

185, 186 
New Zealand, 7, 285 
Newnes, Sir George, 5 
Nightingale Island, 6, 205-210, 211, 

212, 322-324 

Orwell, oil transport, 76, 288 

Pediunker, 213, 253 
Penguin Island, 286, 348 

rookeries, 81, 87, 213, 274, 284 
Penguins, 80, 86, 93, 102, 156, 162, 166, 
295. 363 

Adelie, 115, 143, 145, 148 

Emperor, 108-109, iii, 124 

Gen too, 81, 158, 160, 167 

King, 87, 108, 334 

Ringed. 81, 85, 141, 158, 334 

Rockhopper, 213, 274, 284 

see also Appendix iii 
Personnel, 14-15, 48, 366 
Perth, oil transport, 184 
Petrels. 99 

Antarctic. 93, iii, 112. 131. 141, 143 

Giant, 83, 129, 131. 186, 187 

Mother Carey's Chickens, 52, 83, 131 

Snow, III, 112, 124, 143, 145 

Wilson's, III 

see also Appendix iii 
Plant life, Ascension Island, 305 

Gough Island, 268, 272, 285, 338-339 

Nightingale Island. 207 

St. Helena. 299. 300 

South Georgia. 334 

Tristan da Cunha, 213. 240, 244, 
252. 320 
Plymouth, 17, 293, 308 

Sound, 18, 312 
Ponta del Gada. 310 
Portugal. 29 

Positions, 20, 21. 22. 50. 79, 98, 104, 

108, no, 116, 117, 120, 128, 131, 

136, 141. 143. 144, 147, 288, 342, 

see also Appendix v 

Possession Bay. 346 

Prince Olaf Harbour, 185, 188, 189, 

Prion, see Whale bird 
Professor Gruvel, 67, 74. 173 

Pack, the, 73. loi, no. 113. 117, 122, 

Paddy birds, 159, 163, 363, see also 

Appendix iii 
Pagoda Rock, 79, 96, 348 
Palmer Archipelagc 74. 183 

Queen Mary's Land. 114 

Query, dog, 17, 20, 26, 62, 100, 107, 

122, 143, 145, 148, 153, 196. 201, 

265, 278, 284, 289 



Quest, adaptation and equipment, 
8-13 ; voyage to Rio, 16-37, 42-43 ', 
overhauled, 44-47 ; first visit to 
South Georgia, 48-63, 72-74, 76-79 ; 
pushing South, 80-98 ; in the ice, 
98-144 ; beset, 145-152 ; visits 
Elephant Island, 153-172 ; second 
visit to South Georgia, 177-190 ; 
visits Tristan da Cunha group, 
199-203, 206-209, 213, 224, 231, 
233. 235. 243, 252 ; Gough Island, 
265-270, 279-284 ; Cape Town, 
287-293 ; homeward voyage, 294- 
296, 301, 308-313 ; alluded to, 
vii, 314, 316, 318, 340 ^41, 351, 
353. 365 

Raratonga, 7 

Reef, sounding for reported, 288, 349 

Rio de Janeiro, 43-48, 53, 63, 77, 78, 

85, 140, 182, 341, 345 
" Roaring Forties," the, 179, 199, 203 
Rogers, Rev. Martin, 214, 217, 227, 

232, 235, 236, 243, 248, 263 
Rogers, Mrs. Martin, 235-237, 243, 248 
Ross, G. H., 83, 142, 197 
Ross's Appearance of I^and, 91, 137, 

144, 145, 350 
Rowett, Mr. J. Q., viii, 3, 5, 9, 15-17, 

51. 52. 57. 66, 72, 73, 77, 173, 174, 

176, 177, 204, 215, 217, 287, 290, 

312, 328, 340, 365 
Rowett, Mrs. J. Q., ix, 51, 52, 176 
Royal Bay, 197, 316, 347 
Royal Geographical Society, 2 

St. Hei,Ena, 287, 296-301, 327 

St, Paul Rocks, 6, 38-42, 325-327, 328, 

St. Vincent, 35 ,42, 62, 78, 287, 308, 309, 

327, 328, 341 
San Miguel Azores, 310, 327 
Sapp, Captain, of Southern Isles, 185 
Scilly Isles, 19, 30 

Scotia, 267, 348 
Scott, Captain, 14, 355, 364 
Scurvy, 104-106, 353-357. 3^5 
Sea-elephants, 81, 137, 156, 157, 159, 
162-164, 186, 272, 333, 337, 363 
Sea hen, see Skua 
Sea-leopards, 93, H2, 125, 149, 333. 

335. 363 
Sea life, St. Paul Rocks, 38-42 

Tristan da Cunha, 336 

tropical, 36 
Seal meat, 103-105, 108, 125, 363 
Seal Rocks, 166 

Seals, 81, 107, 111-115, 143, 295, 337, 

Arctic and Antarctic, 125 

Crab-eater, loi, 114, 124, 131, 132, 

139, 145. 335. 363 
Weddell, 118, 333, 363 
Sea-sickness, 31, 353 
Shackleton, I^ady, 8, 66, 67, 69, 173, 

174, 176, 194 
Shackleton, Sir B. H., vii-ix ; plans 
and finance, i-io, 14-15 ; on the 
Quest, 16-38, 41-43, 48-59; at Rio, 
44-48 ; arrival at South Georgia, 
60-63 ; death, 64-67, 365 ; arrange- 
ments for burial, 67-70, 173 
memorial service, 174 ; fimeral, 
1 76 ; memorial cairn and grave, 
192-195 ; alluded to, 71-79, 88, 
105, 155, 156, 171, 183, 188, 312, 
314. 342, 344. 350, 354-356, 362, 
diary, 18-23, 58-59 
South, I, 155, 333 
Sharks, 38-41, 209, 295, 337 
Sinclair, Captain, of Neko, 182, 183 
Skua, 80, 81, 129, 159, 213, 268, 272, 

see also Appendix iii 
Smith, C. E., 15, 49, 83, 84, 92, 292 
Snow-blindness, 353, 361-362 
Sorlle, Mr., manager, Stromness Har- 
bour, 183, 184 
Soundings, 84, 92, 96, 104, no, 116, 
117, 120, 128, 131, 141, 143, 144, 
147, 171, 189, 197, 199, 214, 274, 
279, 283, 286, 288, 318, 327, see 
also Appendix v 



Southampton, 8, 17, 177 

South Georgia, first visit, 60-63, 80-82 ; 
second visit, 168-172, 178-198 ; 
geology, 315-317 ; natural history, 
329-334 ; hydrographic work, 345- 
347 ; alluded to, 8, 57, 67, 69, 72, 
73. 77. 79. 91. 94. I37. 138. 173- 
176. 197. 201, 328, 342, 350 
Sandwich Group, 347, 350 
Shetlands, 183, 317 
Trinidad Island, 6, 43, 287 

Southern Isles, oil transport, 185 

Southern Sky, 184 

Sperry gyroscopic compass, 11, 344 

Stefansson, 2, 14, 105, 357 

Stoltenhofif Island, 205, 210, 212, 324 

Stromness Harbour, 183-185 

Surveys, 38, 87, 279, 285, 286, see also 
Appendix v 

Tagus, river, 29, 31 

Temperatures. 52, 129, 143, 144, 145, 
146, 150. 342 

Terns, 131, 268, see also Appendix iii 

Traill-Smith, Comdr., 18, 293 

Tristan da Cunha, 6, 179, 190, 198, 199, 
203-206, 213-264, 266, 274, 291, 
320-322, 336. 342, 349-351 


Uruguay, Repubwc op, 174, 194 
Uruguayan Government, 173-175 
Minister for Foreign Affairs, 175, 177 


Waixis Island, 60 

Water sky, 98, 107, in, 150 

Watts, IT., 15, 27, 49, 66, 83, 92, 120, 

140, 149, 160, 296 
Weddell Sea, 72, 91, 100, 119, 142, 350 
Whale birds, 52, 83, 213, see also 
Appendix iii 
food, 101-102 
him ting, 182-183 
Whales, loi, 102, 132, 171, 333, 363 
" Wideawake Valley," 302-303 
Wild, Frank, 55, 122, 142, 153, 200, 
221. 223, 231-233, 236, 238, 295. 
296, 342. 364 
Wilkins, G. H., 14, 23, 27, 35, 37, 38 
50. 59. 77. 87, 92, 103, 108, 115, 
134, 140, 149, 157, 163, 169, 179, 
186, 187, 197, 206, 207, 212, 231, 
285, 292, 304, 309, 327, 330. 333, 
337. 340 
Wind at Gough Island, 281, 283 
South Georgia, 184 
Tristan da Cunha, 213, 228, 251, 
see also Appendix iv 
Wireless, 10. 19, 22, 66, 140, 344-345,348 
Woodville, 69, 174, 175, 178, 189 
Worsley, F. A., 14, 23, 27, 42, 49, 52, 
54, 57, 60, 65, 76, 77, 82-85, 90-92, 
94-96, 98, 103, no, 117, 120, 122, 
123, 128, 131, 133, 136, 141, 143. 
144, 147-149, 161, 166, 171, 172, 
183, 184, 187, 189, 194, 197, 202, 
204, 214, 265, 266, 288, 294, 343 
Wounds, treatment of, 362 

Young, S. S., 48, 49, 52, 83, 92, 163 

Vttamines, 354-358, 363, 364 
Volcanic appearances, 82, 86, 347 

Zavodovski Island, 85-87, 318, 334, 

Printed by Cassbll ft Compamt, Limited, La Belle Sauvace, London, E.C.4. 

5- "23 









Wild, Frank 

Shackleton's last